By Joseph Nasr and Sarah Mills
BERLIN (Reuters) – If you want a taste of the psychological and physical strain that comes with posing for one of the 20th century greatest painters, then go watch “Final Portrait”.
Director Stanley Tucci’s adaptation of U.S. writer James Lord’s memoir “A Giacometti Portrait” offers a window into the chaotic life of Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti in Paris in the 1960s.
Lord was in Paris in 1964 when Giacometti painted a portrait of him. The process drags on for weeks, during which Giacometti and Lord reflect on the frustration that comes with creativity and the absurdity of life.
Actor-director Tucci told Reuters at the Berlin Film Festival, where “Final Portrait” was shown out of the competition, that making the project a reality was more time-consuming than Giacometti’s portrait of Lord.
“I wanted to make this movie for a long time,” Tucci said. “And I finally got the guts many years later to write Lord a letter and at first he said ‘No, no you shouldn’t do this – nobody can do this’, so then I wrote him another letter explaining how I would do it and he said ‘Well you seem to have an understanding of art and let’s meet’.”
He added: “So we met and because we had a mutual friend who had spoken to him and said ‘would you just let Mr Tucci do what he wants to do’, so he gave me the rights and then I took a couple of years to write it and it took 10 years to get the money to make it.”
Tucci praised actor Geoffrey Rush’s improvisations on the set, which he said he encouraged.
Rush at times spiced up the atmosphere in his dimly lit and gothic-looking studio with outbursts of cursing and jokes.
Armie Hammer, who plays Lord and at times loses hope that the portrait will ever be finished, said sitting in a chair for four weeks of shooting while Rush painted him was uncomfortable.
He said: “No it was, to be perfectly honest I sat in that chair across from Geoffrey Rush and watched him become Alberto Giacometti and he is an actor, an artist that I have looked up to since I got into this business so to get to have him as a scene partner was really exceptional.”
(Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Alison Williams)