Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
Guiseppe Tornatore has never quite been able to top his 1989 Academy Award winner, Cinema Paradiso. He’s come close a few times, with Everybody’s Fine and Maléna both gathering accolades and praise. The Italian writer-director is adept at creating memorable characters and he has a wonderful eye for cinematic shots, even if his films often lack a certain dramatic pull. Which bring us to his latest effort, The Best Offer; a drama that impresses and disappoints in equal measure.
Geoffrey Rush stars as Virgil Oldman, an eccentric art auctioneer that begins a relationship of sorts with Claire, a mysterious young woman who has inherited a sizable collection of art and antiques. Unfortunately, Claire is reluctant to appear in person, preferring to stay behind a wall while others are in her home.
To say more would be to say too much. This romantic-drama unfolds like a mystery, with two strange characters unveiling each other’s flaws and romantic yearnings. Virgil and Claire are troubled, lonely individuals that are ultimately perfect for one another. But the film’s air of doom points to an “unexpected” ending. The film’s resolution is a little too obvious, making the road there slightly frustrating and nonsensical.
Tornatore is a good director. He directs every sequence with a careful eye, accentuating the details and almost artistically framing the beautiful shots. He has certainly surrounded himself with worthy talents. Fabio Zamarion’s cinematography is gorgeous and Massimo Quaglia’s film editing is stylishly old-fashioned. Special mention has to go to Ennio Morricone, the classic film composer delivers yet another beautiful score that suits Tornatore’s imagery perfectly.
Ultimately, the film belongs to Geoffrey Rush. He continues to solidify his reputation as one of our greatest living actors with this brilliant performance. Full of subtle nuances and wordless emotion, Rush’s Virgil is a character that feels incredibly real. Virgil is a frustrating person, with strange quirks and a demeanor of seemingly self-importance that could irritate even the most understanding person. But Rush and Tornatore ensure that we empathize with him, he doesn’t act this way out of arrogance or malice, this is simply the way he is.
The whole cast performs quite well. Sylvia Hoeks is fantastic as Claire, a troubled girl that suffers from an uncomfortable condition. Her relationship with Virgil is both understandable and convincing. Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland are also fine in supporting roles.
The Best Offer has many points in its favour. This should be a great film, but Tornatore’s screenplay doesn’t quite deliver on the dramatic promises it makes early on. You’ll see the ending coming a mile away, and that’s a pretty severe problem to have in this kind of film. The film falls into a stagnant level of emotion that it never really recovers from. It’s all quite pretty and the performances are pitch perfect, but the story just doesn’t do any of that talent true justice.
THE REEL SCORE: 6/10