THE BEST OFFER (2014)
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Writer: Giuseppe Tornatore
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks, Donald Sutherland, Dermot Crowley, Philip Jackson…
Runtime: 131 minutes
Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery
by Cherie Jung
Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush) is a renowned auctioneer. He is eccentric. He distains everyone. He is lonely though he would never admit such. He crosses paths with a reclusive heiress in a decaying mansion who wants him to do a valuation of the antiques and paintings left to her by her deceased parents. The heiress, Claire Ibbetson (Sylvia Hoeks) suffers from agoraphobia and allows no one to see her, not even the groundskeeper. Oldman becomes obsessed with viewing her. They play a dangerous cat and mouse game.
Oldman also has an art scam going with a longtime acquaintance, Billy Whistler (Donald Sutherland). Oldman values genuine pieces of art as fakes to keep the prices low (and affordable to himself, via Billy’s bidding) or values fakes as genuine, while Billy drives up the price with his bids. They share in the profits, although not equally. Billy just wants Oldman to recognize him as a great artist, though Oldman never does.
“The Best Offer” is a quirky crime tale, if you consider art fraud a crime. If you don’t, then this is just a quirky tale. Though it is fair to say one may use wide latitude in attempting to define the story. Some viewers will see it more as a romance, some as obsession, and others as a tale of crime and revenge. It encompasses all of these qualities and more. The story, the acting, the music, and the cinematography all work in harmony to enhance the viewer’s experience though American audiences may balk at the leisurely European pace the director employs to unravel the tale. (Hint: there will be no blazing guns and no car chases.) The ending will not be what you expect, especially for American audiences (It’s that European thing again). The ending may seem ambiguous. The entire movie will leave you with things to ponder for hours and perhaps days after you have finished watching it.
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