Tender portrait of eccentricity
CAN you fake love? And is there a trace of truth in every forgery?
Set against the sumptuous backdrop of the European art world and an Ennio Morricone score, The Best Offer centres on eccentric art auctioneer Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush, pictured) and the gradual opening of his heart.
Virgil is an oddball and recoils at the prospect of touching anything or anyone without wearing gloves.
Despite being one of Europe’s finest art auctioneers he shuns the spotlight.
Virgil is also a swindler who, with the help of his associate Billy Whistler (Donald Sutherland), talks down the value of paintings he wants for himself.
He’s very much a loner, his only companions the painted ladies whose portraits he collects; he has never been with a real woman. Virgil’s world is turned upside down when he starts helping young agoraphobic Claire Ibbotson (Sylvia Hoeks), who wants to sell her late parents’ antiques but who will only talk to Virgil through walls and doors.
He seeks help from his friend, mechanical whiz Robert (Jim Sturgess), who gives him romantic advice while rebuilding an automaton from parts Virgil has stolen from Claire’s house.
Virgil is a master of spotting a forged artwork but can the same be said for his judgment when it comes to authenticity in real life? Despite Virgil’s capacity for deceit, Rush plays him with a tenderness that keeps the audience on side.
Hoeks is the weakest link in the main cast, while Sturgess delivers a convincing performance.
Acclaimed Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore ( Cinema Paradiso) has already picked up a swag of Italian film awards for The Best Offer, his first English language movie.
It’s an entertaining mystery that drags a little in the second half before its compelling final act.
– MELISSA JENKINS
The Best Offer opens today.