Ten­der por­trait of ec­cen­tric­ity

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

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.

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