That estimable actor Stanley Tucci has proved his directing ability with films including Big Night, but he doesn’t quite convince in an art-historical anecdote that could be titled The Agony and the Neurosis. It’s based on American writer James Lord’s memoir of sitting for a portrait by Alberto Giacometti, a process that took much longer than expected because of the Swiss artist’s perfectionist prevarication.
There’s the stuff of a terrific chamber piece here, but it’s drastically unbalanced by Geoffrey Rush’s showy whimsicality as the mercurial maestro. However, Armie Hammer brings a sustained, zen-like baseline of amused patience as Lord, while Tony Shalhoub and Sylvie Testud bring nuanced support.
The real star, however, is production designer James Merifield – you believe that Giacometti’s studio looked exactly like this, down to the last gummed-up paintbrush.