Final Portrait (2017) Script

In 1964, I was a young writer living in Paris.

I had written a few articles about Alberto Giacometti, who was one of the most accomplished and respected artists of his generation.

I had become good friends with Giacometti and his brother, Diego.

And one day, after an exhibition, he asked me to sit for a portrait.

He told me it would take no longer than two to three hours.

An afternoon at the most.

Oh, the exhibition was just beautiful.

I don't think he's ever really happy.

Uh, but he asked me to pose for him.

Yes, exactly, then I'll be back in a few...

Yeah. Oh, he said it'd be very quick.


Excuse me.


Okay.

Ah, hello, Jim!

Hello, Annette. How's it going?

It's going well. And you? Good thanks, very good

Okay. I'm going to Le Dome. Would you like to join me?

I would, but we're about to start...

Ah, yes, you're my husband's next victim. Mm.

Have fun. Enjoy your lunch.


Okay, is it too small...?

Ah, Jim. Diego. Hello.

I heard you were coming. How's it going?

Ah, I'm okay, okay.

What's this? I just made this base.

But, uh, it might be a little, uh...

Yes.


Whew.

It's hopeless.


Okay.


No.


You have the head of a brute.

Gee, thanks. Yeah. You look like a real thug.

Thank you.

If I was to paint you as I see you now and a policeman was to see this painting, you'd be thrown in jail, like that.

Perhaps we shouldn't continue. No, no, no.

It's all right. I'll never be able to paint you as I see you.

Are you sure? Yes, of course.

It's impossible.


Just so you know, it is also impossible to ever finish a portrait.

What do you mean?

Well, portraits used to be finished.

They had to be.

They were necessary. It was a substitute for a photograph.

Now, portraits have no meaning.

So, what we're doing is meaningless?

Mm. And impossible.

And I'm not even doing it. I can only ever try to do it.

So on that note, shall we stop for the day?

Pff. It's a start. Yes. Yeah, yeah. Um, uh...

It's not done yet. You can come back tomorrow, right?

Sure, sure, but I... I have the... Good. You have what?

I've got the flight the next day is the only thing.

Oh, that's fine. That gives us enough time?

Yes. All right, sure. So same time tomorrow?

Sure, sure. Thank you. No, no, thank you.

Well, we'll see if you thank me tomorrow after I torture you some more.

You've made progress.

I don't know if "progress" is the right word.

What's the right word? Shitty!

Caroline, you know James? James, no. Ah, James.

Yes, nice to see you. Hello, James.

Uh, so, Alberto, I'll see you tomorrow? Yes. Good, good.

Thank you. No, thank you.

He is still here. Come on.

Does he not want to leave?

Hang on.

And there! Again. Again, again, again, again. Again.

Go on, now.

Each night, after working with me, Giacometti would work with Caroline, a prostitute with whom he'd been openly carrying on a relationship for three years.

Are you done?

She'd become his primary model, his nighttime companion... and his obsession.


I have to say, I will miss Paris as well. Yeah.

Mm.

Excuse me. I'll see you in a minute. Hello, James.

Hello, Pierre. James.

How's it going? I saw the portrait.

Oh, and? Well...

Pierre thinks he'll never be able to sell it.

It's more to do with the subject than the painting.

Anyway, I'm not going to give it to you, Pierre.

I'm going to give it to Lord. And rightly so.

It's coming along superbly. It could be your best.

Oh, now you say that, I'm probably going to wreck it.

You take a coffee? I would love one, thank you.

No, we have to go back to work. Oh.

Nice to see you, Pierre. It's a shame.

Have a nice day.

What are you doing?

Do you mind?


Oh, fuck!

Don't know how to do anything.

Wait. You can stay, right?

I was supposed to leave tomorrow. Oh.

No, but I could... Another day or...?

A day or two at the most, and then if it doesn't turn out to be any good, I can give up painting forever.

Don't laugh. Sorry.

Have you always been like this?

Like what? So doubtful of your own ability.

Of course. It gets worse every year.

But you become more successful every year.

What better breeding ground for doubt than success?

Hmm?

Don't smile. Well, you did.

No, I didn't. You did.

I did not smile.

Oh, fuck!

This is going really badly. Hmm.

There's no question of finishing it, so...

Then why are we here? What?

I... I said, then why are we here? It's useful for me.

It's what I deserve, I suppose, after 35 years of dishonesty.

That's what I am. I'm dishonest. I'm a... I'm a liar.

Dishonesty? How do you mean?

All these years that I've been showing things.

They were all... they were all unfinished.

Probably shouldn't have been started in the first place.

Then again, if I hadn't shown them, I would have felt like a coward, so...

Ugh! I don't know. I'm neurotic.

Well, I understand that.

I had a friend who was so neurotic, he ended up committing suicide.

I'm sorry. Hmm.

Do you ever think about it?

Suicide? Mm.

Every day. Of course.

It's not like I feel life is bad. It's just that I...

I think death must be the most fascinating experience, you know?

I'm just... I'm just curious.

The best way would be to cut one's throat from ear to ear.

Hmm.

I don't know if I'd have the courage to do that.

You can take sleeping pills, but that's not really suicide, is it?

That's just... that's just sleeping.

Cutting your wrists is nothing.

The one that really appeals to me is burning yourself alive.

That would be something. That I would really like to do.

Well, do it or shut up.

I might. Oh, my God.

I might, so I don't have to listen to you talk about it anymore.

Please do it. I would.

The only problem is, you can only do it once.

Jesus! What? It's only a million.

- Due. Two million. Well, there's some for you.

Oh. A little for me.

And the rest, I'll keep... boff!

Oh, God. What a ham. What?

I thought you were without affectation.

Was that affected? A little bit.

Yeah, but it was funny. True.

I have several million hidden in here.

Where? Pff. That's the problem.

It's so fucking well hidden, I don't know where it is.

Why on earth would you hide two million more?

What else could I do with it? You put it in the bank.

Oh, no. Can't trust banks. Can't trust banks. No.

You're Swiss.

No. Swiss Italian.

Oh, for God's sakes.

Under the bed is not such a great idea. What do you think?

I think it's fairly obvious. But I want to be able to find it again.

Uh...

How about under the dresser?

Ooh.

I could tape it to the bottom. You could.

Will I remember that? I don't know.

How about up here on the beam? Here, you do it. You're taller.

Just right up there?

What do you think?

I can still see it.

Bring it down again.

Let's see. There must be somewhere here.

Well, it could... I think it'll be just a few days longer.

Of course, I miss you too, but...

I do. Oh, stop it.

Listen, I think it's important. I want him to finish.

No... I hid it in the toilet.

Not in. Up.

Oh, um, never mind. Uh... I... I can't rush him. It's...

I don't know how, first of all. It'll only be a few more days.

So, let's make the trade.

I would like to take back the four earlier ones of mine.

Oh, yes. Yes. The watercolors. Mm-hm.

I love those.

Yes, we love these.

And did you bring the nude? Sorry?

The nude.

I can take it off your hands.

Tsk. Uh, yes. Uh, fine, good, yes. Um, absolutely.

There we are. Ah, yes.

And you can have these three. Yes.

Uh, oh, and this one, which I love.

Yes. Oh, yes. Wonderful. All right.

All right. Yes, perfect. Wonderful.

Perfect. Oh, yes.

Thank you. Yes, sir. Thank you.

Enchanted.

Ah. The desire, look at that.

Hmm.

How'd it go?

He made out like a capitalist.

I haven't seen these for such a long time. I don't have many of these.

This nude is... the last time I did one from life in 1935.

So, what did you give them?

Drawings that were like hundreds of others he's done.

And they were happy?

Happy? Of course they were.

They know those are what sells. Those are "Giacomettis"!

And those?

Do these look like "Giacomettis" to you?

Front on, you look like a brute. Side on, you look like a degenerate.

That's very nice of you. Thank you.

One way you go to jail. The other, you go straight to the asylum.

I'll probably meet you in there.


Oh, God.


Okay, let's go.

You moved. No, I didn't.

Yes, you did. No.

Lower your chin.

A little to the right.

Not so far.

Raise your head very slowly. There.

I don't know why you try to trick me.

I don't know what you're talking about.

There. Stay there. Hmm.

Oh, fuck!

Is it worth going on with?

Oh, yeah. Yeah.

A real friend would tell me that I should give up painting forever.

Whoever said I was a real friend?

Are we ready?

I'm starving. Oh, of course.

Let's go. Ah.

Good. Let's go.

Thank you. I can't wait anymore.

Okay, okay.

"There once was a young man from Ghent...

Not this one, Alberto. No, please.

It's horrible. Let me tell it.

Don't say this one. Let me do this. Okay.

"Young man from Ghent, whose cock was..." no, no, no, it was his tool.

"Whose tool was so long, it was bent.

To save her the trouble, He folded it double And instead of coming, he went."

That's terrible. Why would you let him tell that?

Oh, let's have more wine. Alphonse?

More wine! Hey, excuse me.

- Where did you learn...? The pissoir is calling.

Hmm. So, how is it going?

It's going well, I think. Yeah?

Yeah. How do you like posing?

I like it. I do. Yeah?

Yeah, but it's, you know, it can be exhausting.

Yeah, I know. He makes me nervous sometimes.

The way he yells at the canvas when things aren't going well...

You know what I mean? Yeah.

But what's really disturbing is just how the portrait itself seems to come and go as if Alberto has no control over it whatsoever.

I know.

Then other times, it just... disappears entirely.

Yeah.

I feel like this could go on for months.

Sometimes it does. There's nothing anyone can do about it?

No. Even Alberto?

Especially Alberto.

It's... it's a terrible feeling of fatality, isn't it?

You'll get used to it.

Ahem.

Shall we get a little more wine?

We did. Did we? Uh...

Yeah. You know, I'll... I'll check on it.

Excuse me.

Oh, Alberto.


Hello!

What time is it?

2:30. Shit. Already?

I wanted to get something to drink before we started.

All right.

You wanna go, uh...?

Okay, okay.

Let's go.

Okay, okay.


Mm.

We'll get some eggs and some wine.

Oh, I'll get my cigarettes. Oh, I have mine if you...

Okay, we go.

No, let's work. Come on. Come on. Okay.


Yeah, the nose is in place now.

That's some progress.

Let's take a break now. My back is killing me. I...

I slept so badly last night.

It's impossible, you know. There is no feeling in my work.

I find your work to be very emotional.

Well, if that's the case, it's in spite of me.

Ladies and gents.

Hello.

Bring a tray to the gentleman.

Mr. Alberto. Ah, hello. Thank you.

Bon appétit.

You want something, Jim?

Uh, yeah, I'll take a Coca-Cola, please.

Yes, sir.

A coke. Come on, hurry.

There you go. Thank you.

I think it's going very well today.

Mm. Maybe.

Tomorrow will be better.

Tomorrow we can really start.

When are you leaving? End of the week.

Oh. Oh.

Mm.

I thought you were going to change your reservation.

I did.

Mm. Mm.

Quick, quick, quick, quick.


Okay, let's go. All right.

Thank you.

Bye. Bye.

Thank you.

No, no. Let's take a walk. All right.

So, I'm confused. You changed your reservation until...?

Yeah, the end of the week. Yeah. Oh, I see, I see.

I... I, you know, I could change it again.

I just... I would like to know, you know, how many days do you need?

Oh, I don't know.

I think it would be great to work for another week.

A week? A week, yes.

I think a week would be good.

Uh...

No, no, no, a week is, is... uh, that's fine. It's fine. I...

I can just move my flight, um...

Next Wednesday, would that...?

Wednesday? Yes, Wednesday is good. Fine.

Let's say Wednesday. Okay. Good.

But then, you know... What?

Well, there's no question of the portrait ever being finished, so...

No, no, no. Of course, of course.

Have you ever wanted to be a tree?

Um, no.

Wait. Give me a minute.

Isaku, how are you? Good to see you.

No, no, no, no, don't get up.

Where have you been?

Uh, James and I have been walking. I could do with a nap.

But I must work, you know. Good.

- Yeah. We were speaking a little bit. Good. Cheri.

Boo!

Hello, Caroline.

Hello, Jim.

Where is that old dog? He's, uh...


No, no, Caroline, no. Yes, yes, it's red. It is red.

It's a nice color, no? Yeah, but not on me.

Of course it is a good color. With white seats?

Oh. Oh.

It's very expensive. Good.

Very, very expensive. Very, very good.

It's a car, a car that she likes very much.

Not that I like. That I love.

The sailorman says we can get it in a few days.

What do you mean, the "sailorman"? No, no, no. The salesman.

But not now. In a few days, okay?

Caroline, no, no. It's wrong.

You're going to drive me around? Absolutely.

Oh, this makes me very nervous.

Come on! Okay, okay.

I'm sorry, James. I'm sorry. I'm posing now.

I'll see you tomorrow, then. I'll give you a ring later?

Thank you, James. Thank you. Mm.

Stop moving. No, no. Okay. Okay.

You have a mouth like a fish!

You still have some red, there.


Your hair. What's with my hair?

It's only that...


How is it going? How are you?

I'm well. Is he here?

No, no, he's not here. We're supposed to have the...

Do you know when he'll be back? No. He disappeared.

Long ago or...? I don't know.

He'll come back some time. Eventually, I guess.

I'm reading a new book.

One of mine?

God, no. No.

What's it called?

It's called The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

Mm. What's it about?

Uh... it's about a spy...

who comes in...

from the cold.

You could be a spy.

I am a spy.

Hey, um, what...?

What...?

Wait, wait, wait. What are you doing?

I have to junk all this stuff! What? No, no, no.

No, wait a minute. No. Yes.

No, no, no. Let's look at... No!

Diego, please. They're no good. They're not usable.

The paper is too old.

Diego. Alberto.

What?

I go to the lithographer, all right?

I want to talk to him about transferring this stuff to stone.

He says, "This paper is too old."

They're perfectly valid as drawings.

No! I did these as lithographs. They were meant to be lithographs and this is what they now cannot be.

He can go fuck himself.

Oh, shit!


You burned some drawings that were on regular paper.

I did? Mm.

Did I? Mm.

James?

Sit down.

Whew.

I was glad when that day's session was over.

Giacometti was miserable and his mood was pervasive.

I was to find out that evening that Caroline had gone missing.

But where'd she go? Who knows where she goes?

Wherever her pimp or pimps tell her to. Mm.

Cheers.

He's too attached to her.

Who, Alberto? Yeah. He goes crazy without her.

He makes himself go crazy. Yeah, why?

My brother can only be happy when he is desperate and uncomfortable in every part of his life.

Well, he should be very happy, then.

But it's like he's determined to remain completely unsatisfied.

No, not completely, just perfectly.

Yeah.

She's beautiful. Who, Caroline?

No, no, well, yes, but...

The bird you made me. Thank you. Oh. Yeah, you're welcome.

She'll never fly, however.


Oh, shit.


Fucking hell!


Alberto!


Have you ever killed anyone?

- Excuse me? Have you ever killed anyone?

No. Why do you ask?

I think you're the sort of person who's capable of doing anything, and I mean that as a compliment.

Thank you.

What about you? Have you ever killed anyone?

Mm. In my mind, I've killed many people.

- Anyone I know? No. No one I know, either.

- Who are these poor souls? Just people.

Women.

- Really? Yes.

Before I could go to sleep, when I was young, every night I'd fantasize about killing two women.

After I raped them.

Oh.

And... and this helped you fall asleep?

Yes. It comforted me.

Fuck!

Work on the background or the body for a while.

No! Everything has to happen in its own time.

If I paint the background or the body just to be doing something, I'd just be filling in space. It would be wrong.

And then I'd have to abandon the whole portrait completely.

Don't... don't do that. That's... That's what I should do.

I should just abandon the whole thing, the whole picture.


I know it's taking a long time. Yes, I know that I said that I...

Listen, if you're just gonna berate me, I'm gonna hang up.

Well...

The line dropped. Say that again.

No, I have no control over it.

Yes, thank you. I know it's not brain surgery.

And thank you for minimizing the process.

- Hello? Hello.

I'd like to change a reservation, please.


Cézanne was right. About what?

Squaring everything.

Everything is a cone or a cylinder or a sphere.

I guess you're right. You what?

I said I guess you're right. I know I'm right.

Cézanne was the last great painter.

It was just too bad the Cubists took him so literally.

The Cubists produced very pretty things. Oh, who needs pretty?

Then they realized they'd reached a dead end and gave up.

Picasso and Braque were the really guilty ones.

Right, but Picasso moved on.

Oh, yes, so that he could copy every great artist that ever lived.

Well... It's true.

I know, but every artist copies. Yes, but you do it as an exercise.

It's just an exercise. Oh, Alberto.

What? I think you're being a bit harsh.

No, it's true. I'm telling you, I promise you.

Picasso could be so pompous.

"I was unable to reach the top of the scale of values, so I smashed the scale." Oh, that's bullshit.

He really said that? Of course he did. Who else would say it?

Picasso's always making statements like that, you know.

At first they sound like they're so full of wit, but they're full of shit. They have absolutely no meaning.

Well, he's rather fond of you. No, he's not.

I thought you were friendly. We were for a while.

But, you know, I let that go.

Yeah, but didn't he ask for your opinion on a sculpture he was working on and then changed it after...?

Who told you that? Dora Maar.

What'd she say?

She said he came to you, asked your opinion and...

Let me tell you what happened.

He came to me. He said, "I want your opinion."

I said, "Okay, I think, you know, you should make a change."

And he made a change... to the exact opposite of what I suggested.

Ah. Because he has no interest whatsoever in the ideas of collaboration or artistic camaraderie, you know.

He's too insecure.

He just likes to steal other people's work and pretend that they're his own ideas.

Mm.

The man's a thief.

I decided to take up swimming as a way to relieve not only the physical strain of posing but what was slowly becoming a psychological strain as well.


One morning after my swim, I was invited to see the ceiling of the opera house that Chagall had just painted.

The magnificence of the work left me feeling lighter than I'd felt in days.

Then, I went to sit for Giacometti.

Oh, fuck!

Brute.

Oh, fuck! Alberto.

What? Stop a bit.

Yeah, why? Look at this. It's hopeless.

The head is all lopsided. It's a mess!

I saw the Chagall ceiling this morning.

At the opera? Mm.

You did? Mm-mm.

I can't wait. Alberto is taking me to the opening tomorrow night.

I can't wait for you to see it. You're going to love it.

Is it magnificent? Exquisite.

I'm sure. It's amazing.

Apparently he did the whole thing by painting...

Stop moving around.

Sorry.

And don't scratch.

I had an itch. Well, don't itch.

You know what? I bought a new dress for it.

It's going to be quite a gala, I hear. Mm-mm.

Annette! Yes, darling?

Ugh!

Yes, of course.

So where did you get the dress?

In a very nice shop.

It's a very nice dress. It's yellow with a bit of pink.

And I bought the shoes.

They are so nice.

Do they have a heel on them?

Yes, it's yellow with pink flowers.

They have high heels. I think it's very ni...

Beautiful.

Can I take that? If it is finished.

Yes, it's finished.

Chagall.

Opera.

Fucking house painting.

You can't compare that to what I'm trying to do here.

Oh, fuck!

Okay. Let's just stop there before I destroy everything.

Would you excuse me a moment? Ahem.


Oh, my God. What?

How much longer can it go on like this? It could go on forever.

He says a portrait can never be finished.

I can understand that.

Of course not. I'm amazed I've ever seen a portrait of his.

I think I'm gonna die in there. I can't keep going like this.

I've gotta get back to New York.

I've already pushed my trip so many times and it's costing me a fortune.

Well, maybe you could set a deadline.

Alberto like to work up against a deadline sometimes.

Yeah.

Maybe you could talk to him for me.

No.

Please? No. No. No.

Well, at any rate, I can't keep doing this.

It seems like we pose... for hours and hours and nothing happens.

That's the reason why I don't pose anymore.

Why? Thank you.

Because your whole life can be swallowed up.

So, what do you think?

It's lovely. Very pretty.

Merci. You should see my bag. It's beautiful. I show you.

Alberto! Alberto!

Bitch. Wake up!

Come and have a look!

Oh, my God. My God. Wow.

Wow.

No, no, no, no. You go ahead. But, Alberto...

I don't want to. What's going on with him?

You said you wanted me to drive you around.

I'll drive you around. Get in the car.

James, get in the car.

Oh, no. I'm gonna take a picture of the portrait.

Fuck that portrait. Get in the car.

All right. Come on, James.

I'll see you on the other side, eh? Come on.


Are you cold? No.

I'm freezing.

It's such a nice day out. Is it?

Mm. Oh.

I'm freezing. Maybe it was from being in that stupid car.

What are you doing? It's gonna get hot.

You've got a heater on. I'm gonna take my T-shirt off.

No, no, no. Keep it on. Sit down.

Get your coat on. All right.

Sit down.

Let's go.

It's gone too far.

At the same time, not far enough.


I'll never find a way out of this.

Well, we could always just stop.

No, we can't stop.

I have to stop.

Okay.

Wow.

It looks really good.

What'd you do?

I have no idea.

I have to go and lie down.


Diego told me he wasn't feeling well.

He's got a fever. It's 39.

Mm.

Mm.

It's going to be a madhouse anyway.

Yeah, you're right. It...

All right, well, feel better, and, uh, I'll come check on you tomorrow.

Have a good night.

Annette?

A cognac? Yes.

A small cognac. Of course.

A small cognac. Thank you.

It sounds like a great time. It makes me nervous to think about it.

James, I honestly thought you'd love to come.

Well, listen, I'm not saying I wouldn't, I'm just saying that particular...

- Bonjour, handsome. Hello, Caroline.

Did I frighten you? Well...

Did you get excited? I did until I realized it was a woman.

May I introduce you to... I'll convert you, James.

I'll put up a fight. Good. I like fights.

Caroline! Yes, what?

Are we going? I'm coming.

Bye, James. Give Alberto a kiss from me.

You're not posing tonight? No, he's sick and, you know. Bye!


Who is it? It's me.

Jim. Ah, hello, Jim.

Someone's feeling better.

Oh, yes, thank you, very much better. Just a little bit of tenderness.

It was all he needed. Isn't it?

Yes, it's true.

Look at the tree.

I've never seen it look this way before.

Yeah? You see them every day. I know, but it looks different.

Everything looks different. It's more beautiful.

And you. You're so sweet.

Okay, I've got to do the shopping.

No, no, no, no. Yes, yes, yes.

Stay here with me, darling. Go on stop it, I need to go shopping.

Thank you.

Well?

Shall we get going?

James, wait, wait.

Come on. Let's go for a walk.

I wish that I could see things the way you do.

That's all I'm trying to do.

I just want to show how things appear to me.

But I'm unable to do that. No, that's not true.

When I was young, I thought I could do everything.

When I grew up, I realized I could do nothing.

That's what kept me going.

Four more sittings. How does that sound? Thank you.

No, no, I mean, I... I don't know how to thank you.

You don't have to do that. We've worked on it together.

I don't know. That's... I guess that's true.

I certainly don't feel how Madame Cézanne did.

What do you mean?

In the end she said she just felt like an apple.

I never thought she was very funny.

I normally do the boat, but it's a little bit of a longer journey.

Oh, my God. What happened?

Did they take anything? No, no.

Well, shall we call the police? No, no, no.

It wasn't thieves. They came for me.

It was Caroline's pimps.

It's a warning.

James, give me a hand with this thing.

It will be the same price... No... in English, please.

It's going to be the same price.

Right.

Whether you sleep with her or she just sit in front of you.

I see.

Same price for both. Mm.

You don't want to charge me more for one?

What? What is he saying?

He is asking if we want to charge more for one than the other.

Which one would you charge me more for?

For fucking her. Yeah, to fuck.

To fuck her. We could charge you more for both things.

We can take more for both.

Yeah, because it's cheap. Okay. Okay.

I don't mind. Okay.

Okay. So...

We can get a lot more in that case.

Another 10 per hour for each. Good.

Good. Yeah, good. Good.

Plus another 20 an hour for her to pose.

What? What did he say?

For her to pose for me. What did he say then?

Twenty more for posing. Okay, yes. That's great.

Yes, yes. No.

No, what? No, it's... I said no.

It's very reasonable.

I know, I know, but we said 10.

But why did you say that? Shut up. Shit.

Ten. That's on top of the other 10 for posing?

Yeah, and then we're good.

I'm happy to give you the 20. No, 10 is fine.

All right.

This pile is all retroactive.

What?

It's payment for the last six months that I've spent with her.

I don't speak English. What does that mean?

It's payment for the last six months.

And this pile is in advance for the next six months.

That's an advance on the next six months.

Ah.

Cheers. Cheers! That's great.

It was a pleasure. Pleasure shared.

There you go. Thanks.

Bye! Out of the way.

It looks like you made them happy.

Please. I would have paid ten times that amount.

What do you mean?

She's given me so much.


Oh, fuck!

What are you doing? Negative work. I have to do this.

Sometimes, you know, to do something, you can only do it by undoing it.

Yes, but how many times? Mm?

How many times? Good question.

It's not always as easy as you think.

What isn't?

The undoing of something.

I thought the portrait looked really good.

When? Earlier, when we started.

It can be very tempting to be satisfied with what's easy.

That happens a lot when people tell you something's good.

Tsk. There. That's good. Hm.

Worse, isn't it? Well...

What's the matter?

Nothing. It's just sometimes it feels like there's very little hope.

Hope?

Is that what you want? Hope?

Well, it'd be nice. Hm.

We've been doing this for a while now.

Yes, but, you know, for me, whenever I feel the most hopeful, that's the time that I give up.

It's like this man I knew who fell when he was climbing in the mountains in Stampa.

He was clinging on to this rock face on a very steep cliff for ages, right up until the point that the rescue party came.

About to reach out, grab his hand.

And he let go.

He fell.

He died.

But you're in no danger of dying. No.

But it feels like it sometimes.


I'd like to change a reservation, please.


I thought you said you would make the deadline.

I did. You know what this means, a deadline?

Yes, I know what a deadline is. But I tried. He's just... he's so...

I know. You're right.

Here's what I wanna do.

You know when he uses the big brush with the grey paint and he undoes everything he's already done?

Uh-huh.

It's normally after that that he grabs a black brush with a fine tip and he starts to construct the head all over again from nothing

- for the 100th time, right? Yeah. Basically, yes.

Then he's onto the highlights with the ochre and the grey and all. The grey. Yes.

And then he finishes with the final touches of white.

- Uh-huh. Then he gets that big brush again... and obliterates everything he's already done.

Right.

That's when I'm gonna stop him. What do you mean?

I mean I'm gonna try to stop him.

Okay. Yeah.

You're very brave.


I'm gonna take a minute.

Stretch my back out. What are you doing?

Just... I'm just... What? Okay.

Just stretch your back and then we'll go straight back to work.


Hmm. It's coming along.

It's just beginning to have real possibilities, huh?

You think? Yes.

Because the drawing is good and the space around is more solid.

Very solid. Hm.

This is the moment when we could really, really start something.

True, true.

Well, I'm sorry I have to leave.

Oh, no, no. You have to leave?

Yes, you remember, we talked. I have to go back to New York.

Oh, well, that's too bad.

Hm. It's too bad. We've gone far.

We could have gone further, but we've gone far.

Mm. That's something.

Yeah.

Well, really, I don't know how to thank you.

It's been an honor to pose for you.

Are you out of your mind?

I didn't say I wanted to do it again.

The next day, Giacometti and I went for a walk and said our goodbyes.

He told me he would have liked to accompany me to the airport, but he was hesitant to ever get back into a car any time soon.

The portrait was shipped to an exhibition in the States and I returned to New York for an extended stay.

Giacometti and I wrote often but never saw each other again, as he was to die a short time later.

In his last letter, Giacometti told me how much he enjoyed painting my portrait and that he hoped I would come back soon so that we could start all over... again.