Geoffrey Rush     Jim Sturgess     Sylvia Hoeks     Donald Sutherland


THE BEST OFFER


 Geoffrey Rush stars as Virgil Oldman, an art auctioneer and authenticator, who is short-tempered, condescending, and impatient.  In his world, everything must be precise and measure up to his standards, from table service to client behavior to his business.  If people do not meet his expectations, he summarily dumps them.  Dedication to his work and a keen eye for art has brought him a great deal of success and a flawless reputation.  He has no apparent personal relationships except for his old pal Billy (Donald Sutherland), who colludes with him in making bids on art for his personal collection, and they have an idle chat from time to time.

 Virgil also becomes acquainted with a young man who has a shop where he fixes almost anything. Robert (Jim Sturgess) also seems to be very successful in the dating world.  This does not initially interest Virgil particularly, but he does have conversations with him when he stops in to bring mechanical parts for Robert to reconfigure into an antique automaton.  An elusive and mysterious woman has contacted Virgil to estimate the value of the antiques and art objects in her old villa.  Her wealthy parents have died, and she is ready to sell them in an auction.  It is in her home that Virgil came across the mechanical parts.  

 The mysteriousness of the woman, named Claire (Sylvia Hoeks), is partly related to agoraphobia and partly to her unpredictability.  She doesn’t appear for appointments, cannot always be reached by phone, and frequently goes back and forth about signing a contract with Virgil.  Her behavior is anathema to him, and he tries unsuccessfully not to engage with her from the beginning, but there is always something that pulls him back into the negotiations.  In desperation, he asks for advice from Robert who obviously knows much about women, and who does give Virgil tips on how to manage Claire.

 Most of the story is about Virgil’s relationship with Claire and his eventually falling for her.  It’s a long, tedious process, which is actually a bit too long, and the movie seems stuck at times.  Better editing could have solved this problem.  At any rate, he is eventually successful in drawing Claire out, and at the same time, improving his own social skills.  

 There is a good deal of intrigue in the story, which is beautifully filmed and well performed by the actors.  The writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore creates enough tension to hold the viewer’s interest, even when the story drags a bit.  In a most artistic manner, he has illustrated layers in human behavior that resemble works of art that that have hidden pieces underneath them.  The Best Offer is similar to one of his previous works, Cinema Paradiso, in its charm and quality of narrative.  Music by the award-winning Ennio Morricone enhances the beauty of the film, along with cinematography by Fabio Zamarion, whose work here has been nominated for a Golden Globe.

Grade:  B

By:  Donna R. Copeland