Posted: Friday, March 23, 2018 – 11:47 AM
Picture this. The next annual Oscar telecast presenting Oscars in the following categories…..Best Costumes, Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing, Best Short Subject, Best Title Writing, Best Assistant Director, Best Dance Direction and Best Engineering Effects. No best actor, director screenplay, movie categories nor star celebrities to introduce them.
Granted the Oscar presentations will be over in record time, but 99 percent of the viewing audience would not be watching. Conversely, with those categories excluded, the Oscars would be mercilessly shorter and boredom would be a thing of the past….unfortunately, not of the immediate past.
That’s how I felt a most laborious 90 minute screening of Final Portrait. With pedigree actors such as Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer and a shamefully wasted Tony Shalhoub, the writing and direction credits are attributed to one of my favorite actors, Stanley Tucci.
At the outset, James Lord (Hammer) an American writer and art devote’ visiting France, is asked to sit for a portrait by his friend the renowned artist and sculptor, Alberto Giacometti.
Honored by the request, Lord accepts with the caveat that he must leave very soon and fly back to America. The iconic artist guarantees Lord that he will be finished before he departs for New York. However, the master artist inspects every detail of his work and being a perfectionist, if there is the slightest brush movement that displeases him, he will tediously work to fix it to his liking.
Much to his friend’s chagrin, Alberto keeps working on the portrait as Lord must constantly delay his departure. The nights are filled with drinking at various clubs with Giacometti openly cavorting with a prostitute the beautiful Caroline (Clemence Poesy) his muse, model and lover. His actions are not lost on his patient and forlorn wife (Sylvie Testud).
Unfortunately, Mr. Tucci is content to write and direct his film without any highlights or character-driven uplifting scenes. He is dedicated to his script and apparently wants to center his creativity on the characters. But, I believe, movie characters, as in real life situations, should be interesting enough for the audience to either relate or be totally consumed with his or her persona. Sadly, it’s lacking.
And because of that, 90 minutes seems to be much longer than it should – like the Oscars.
2 Bagels out of 4
Jerry Cutler, the Courier’s film critic, is rabbi at Creative Arts Temple.