Stanley Tucci’s drama Final Portrait does the impossible: It finds a use for Armie Hammer’s simultaneous beauty as a man and blandness as a performer. While on a brief visit to Paris in 1964, American writer James Lord (Hammer) is invited by his friend and artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) to sit for a portrait for a few days, which ends up taking weeks due to Giacometti’s idiosyncrasies. It would be difficult for Hammer not to be outshone by Rush in any circumstances, let alone when Rush is playing as juicy a character as the mercurial Giacometti under the direction of an actor-director like Tucci.
But Hammer is somehow stiffer and more wooden than he was in Call Me by Your Name — though in fairness, Final Portrait’s story does call for several scenes of him sitting stock-still as the camera zooms into his face at pore-level. Late in the third act, Tucci seems to realize a story about an eccentric artist and a stuffy male model set in mid-’60s Paris allows for certain kinds of cinematic homages, including a scene-opening iris out, day-establishing intertitles that begin losing patience with themselves, and even a heads-sticking-out-of-doors moment of old-school French farce. But in the end, Final Portrait is a battle of acting chops between two mismatched opponents.
Opens Friday at the Clay Theater.