When a distinguished art collector and auctioneer is contacted by a reclusive woman to value her arts and antiques, a world of art, passion, love and mystery collides. My review of The Best Offer is after the jump.
Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush) is the type of man most of us may only ever glimpse once or twice in our lives; he’s certainly unlike anyone we know. A solitary man whose passion and obsession for uncovering rare art and antiques grew from childhood, and has seen him become the most respected in his field, and the head of his own auction house. While nothing less than perfection on the surface, Virgil’s desire to surround himself with beautiful and rare woman sees him running a scam with Billy (Donald Sutherland) to acquire valuable pieces of art at unthinkably low prices. In his home, away from the world, he enjoys the company of these beautiful woman, they are his escape.
Virgil’s perfectly ordered world is thrown off-balance when a client contacts him asking for an evaluation of her dead parent’s estate. Claire (Sylvia Hoeks) is rather unique, she hides within the walls of her home and has not been seen by anyone for years. Virgil’s frustration with her unorthodox lifestyle turns to fascination and eventually obsession. She is a rare beauty, hidden within an old house for years, and he has discovered her. Virgil turns to Robert (Jim Sturgess), a younger man who he occasionally consults with on antique machinery, for guidance. Can they unlock both the walls this woman has put up around her, and the walls blocking Virgil’s own heart?
While the plot may read like a romantic drama, The Best Offer is undoubtedly a thriller. A film with so many questions and hidden treasures, it’s much like trying to decipher a great puzzle. Virgil is a distinguished and immaculately put together gentleman, and to see him come apart at the seams because of this woman is fascinating. She presents a greater mystery than any piece of art, and he wants to unlock her secrets. However Virgil has no experience with woman and therefore we can’t expect him to approach her with the same confidence he has in other aspects of his life. Therefore he turns to others for help – something completely foreign to him. It’s hard to trust all we see, when we understand how blind Virgil is in this situation. Much like art, sometimes you have to look extremely closer and without bias, to be able to tell what is real and what is fake.
Geoffrey Rush gives an extremely understated and controlled performance as Virgil. In what is undoubtedly one of the finest performances of his career, he takes us on a thrilling, highly emotional journey. The initially cold and sterile Virgil could be a very unlikable character, but Rush slowly allows us into the mind and heart of a man who pertains to deal in facts, not emotions. Jim Sturgess continues to impress, with his performance as the slightly cocky, and very smooth Robert. As important as any character, is the wonderfully atmospheric and stirring original score from Ennio Morricone. From serene classical jaunts that evoke wealth and opulence, to breath-taking moments of pure intensity, this score is astonishing.
The world writer-director Giuseppe Tornatore has created within the film is lush and ostentatious, a pure escape to an unfamiliar place. Beautifully shot and wonderfully directed, I wanted to spend more time unraveling the mysteries than lay within its walls. The Best Offer is a rare cinematic puzzle that delivers on its enthralling premise.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Writer(s): Giuseppe Tornatore
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Donald Sutherland, Sylvia Hoeks
Runtime: 131 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: August 29 2013