Geoffrey Rush Shines in Stanley Tucci’s FINAL PORTRAIT

FINAL PORTRAIT is an art biopic of Alberto Giacometti from the wonderful Stanley Tucci, directing his first film where he himself does not star. To keep it awesome he has the marvellous Geoffrey Rush in the lead. FINAL PORTRAIT is not for everyone, it is a unique artistic art-house movie about an artist. It’s like an art-house movie squared. It is out now from the fine folks at Transmission Films and you will find this at most art-house cinemas. Enjoy Kernel Jack’s review……..all the best……Salty.


Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss artist from the first half of the 20th century. His work played a huge role in the upbringing of the surrealist art movement, where he was most famous for his fascination with faces and bodies. On top of that, he was a strange man. A very, very strange man. In 1935, he asked a model to come pose for him over the period of two weeks, allowing him to gain an understanding of the human head and get a stronger sense of how to draw it. This study lasted every day between 1935 and 1940. To tell his life story wouldn’t necessarily make the best film. So, instead, writer-director Stanley Tucci takes the Alberto Giacometti approach. He creates a portrait of the man.


Final Portrait Geoffrey Rush image
Geoffrey Rush



“An artwork is never finished,” insists Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) throughout the entirety of FINAL PORTRAIT. And in that regard, he’s right. An artwork can never be finished. It’s merely pulled away from the artist and released unto the world. In a lot of ways, FINAL PORTRAIT feels deliberately unfinished. It’s the story of a one-night pose that lasted weeks, as told from the perspective of James Lord (Armie Hammer). James comes nightly to Giacometti’s home, where he lives with his wife Annette (Sylvie Testud) and brother Diego (Tony Shalhoub). Throughout his stay, Giacometti and James grow close, and James begins to gain a thorough understanding of the famous artist.


Final Portrait Geoffrey Rush and Armie Hammer image
Armie Hammer and Geoffrey Rush



It was a chance encounter that led to so much more, and the story behind it is fascinating. It’s especially interesting in the sense that you don’t get the entire picture. This is but a small chapter in Giacometti’s eventful life, with the characters talking about events that have already happened without providing much context for the audience. The technique works to create an interesting and unique portrait of the man, mere months before his untimely death, but there’s occasional moments where you’re swept away into the unknown and forced to pretend that you understand what’s going on.


FINAL PORTRAIT is far from a biopic. We barely stray outside of Giacometti’s rundown house, allowing for a snapshot of the man without a three-hour history lesson. Tucci’s script is taut and to the point, clocking in at a lean ninety minute runtime. He brings levity to the scenarios, which are often quite dour, as well as an upbeat tempo for the film to move along with. It’s fast and gets straight into the action. From there, there’s barely a dull moment to be found, even if the film leaves you in the dark at to what it’s trying to get across for most of the runtime. It gets there eventually, but it takes some time.


Final Portrait Geoffrey Rush image
Geoffrey Rush



FINAL PORTRAIT’s absolute show stealer comes in the form of Geoffrey Rush, giving his best performance since GODS OF EGYPT– oh, uh, I mean THE KING’S SPEECH. Or, perhaps even since his Oscar win in his breakout role in SHINE. His performance here beckons back to the film that put him on the map; with similar eccentric behaviours and a wry sense of humour to the debauchery he puts on display. You won’t leave the cinema necessarily loving his character, but you’ll certainly love the performance.

It’s easy to put all the attention on Rush, and justifiably so as this is his film through and through, but the remainder of the cast can’t go without mention. Armie Hammer brings diligence and charm to the leading role, armed with a killer sophistication and deep understanding of his character. His scenes shared with Rush are all sorts of things, but boring they are not. The two share great chemistry, especially notable in a scene where Giacometti is figuring out where to hide millions of dollars. It brings out the best of their abilities.


Final Portrait Clémence Poésy and Geoffrey Rush image
Clémence Poésy and Geoffrey Rush



If you’re left unsatisfied with this movie, I wouldn’t blame you. FINAL PORTAIT is not the type of film everyone is going to enjoy. You can sit through it waiting for something to happen and never be fulfilled, and that’s completely understandable. Not much goes on in this movie. There’s barely even a story. But as a quirky character study of an even quirkier man, it’s quite delightful to watch unfold.





When he’s not spending an embarrassing amount of hours browsing through Netflix, Jack Dignan dedicates his time to reviewing movies of all genres and languages. He has done so since 2012. He also maintains a website of his own – – and ever since their interview, he’s been best friends with Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino just doesn’t know it yet. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.