10 November 2017.
FINAL PORTRAIT ****
You feel you are in the Paris of the 1960s in this intimate portrait of Swiss artist, Alberto Giacometti and his friend, the American art critic and writer, James Lord. Stanley Tucci, the actor, proves his directorial talent once again with this amusing, informative and delicately rendered study of Giacometti’s last year while he was doing a portrait of Lord. With brushstroke images, Tucci opens up the inner workings of the artist in all his facets.
He puts us in the Paris of that time with its side streets and its cafés. It’s as though you yourself are sitting for a portrait by the renowned artist, in his home and atelier, and living bits of his life with him. And it’s finding out the creative need and urge of an artist like Giacometti, with all his moods, the devil in him and his on-and-off humor and charm. Here are sides of the artist that few of us knew, until Tucci decided to bring to life excerpts of James Lord’s book on him.
Geoffrey Rush is spot-on as the irrepressible Giacometti (another Oscar?), while the handsome Armie Hammer is his perfect counterpart as the reserved Lord. The wonderful character-actor Tony Shalhoub (Monk!) plays Giacometti’s gentle brother, Diego. And Sylvie Testud along with Clémence Poésy are perfect as the patient wife and the naughty prostitute. This is pure delight – if you’re into art and character-driven cinema.
Now, is Stanley Tucci a better actor – “The Devil Wears Prada”, “Julie and Julia”, “Hunger Games”, “Spotlight”, – or a more accomplished director (“Big Night”)? Actually, it’s a draw, to our good fortune.
THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US ***1/2
Let’s be honest – if you’re going to get stranded on a wintry mountain top, few women would turn down Idris Elba as partner, nor would any man refuse Kate Winslet.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the serious stuff – and it’s seriously good stuff. A gripping script, fine pacing, and quite a bit of tenderness. Should I go on?
Well then, it starts off at a busy airport that seems to be shutting down due to an approaching storm. Two determined strangers (Winslet and Elba) who desperately need to be somewhere else, and on time (she for her wedding, he for an operation), decide to rent a small plane with pilot to get them to their destinations. But disaster strikes and the rest is obvious from the title.
This survival tale by the Dutch/Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad (of the brilliant, award-winning 2005 film, “Paradise Now”) grows on you in a personal way, not only due to its realistic storyline, but also to the fine acting and chemistry between its two stars. It’s about “les choses de la vie”, and the accidents that can change people and the trajectory of their lives.
Let’s just call it an adventurous love story. Unfortunately quite a few critics have been negative about it, possibly because it’s very human and emotional (they prefer the more grim, tortured oeuvres), or maybe due to the politics of its director…
It won’t let you down.
JUST A WARNING – Take a miss on these 3 films:
TOUT NOUS SÉPARE – Trashy, violent bore – Why would Catherine Deneuve and Diane Kruger waste their talents on this?
LE FIDÈLE – Same goes for the fine Matthias Schoenaerts in this useless “thriller”…
HOUNDS OF LOVE – Incessantly gory and horrific! Rotten Tomatoes has given it a high rating – told you they love grim and tortured.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.