In Stanley Tucci new film, he explores the artistic process of Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) as he painstakingly attempted to paint what would be his last portrait, a portrait of the American art lover James Lord (Armie Hammer). Unfolding over a three week period in Paris in 1964, Giacometti attempted to capture James on canvas, but his insecurity regarding his skills and belief that art can never truly be finished, makes this process an excruciating ordeal for not only painter but also the subject.
Giacometti had originally assured James he could complete the portrait in a single afternoon sitting, however he continually undoes his work that he has completed over the last few days only to rework the painting again and again and again. Furthering emphasising this monotonous ordeal that James is experiencing, is the studio itself which lacks colour and is instead filled with black, white and grey tones.
In order to break up these long repetitive hours of painting, James and Giacometti take walks through the cemetry and dine at the local cafes, through which a touching and offbeat friendship is developed, and a glimpse into Giacometti is shown. Although Tucci refrains from going down the beaten path of showing flashbacks to Giacometti childhood and early artistic years in an effort to explain why Giacometti is the way he is and how he got to this point. Instead he leaves the lives of the men mostly a mystery including why Giacometti started sculpting those haunting, skeletal figures, why James is even in Paris at all and why he must return so soon to America.
Thus, much like the painting that Giacometti doesn't finish the movie itself feels unfinished, as if it still missing those final touches that would turn the film from something good into a grand masterpiece.