|Original title: La Migliore Offerta
|Rating: (4.5 / 5)
|Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
|Duration: 131 min.
|Genres: Mystery, Crime, Drama, Romance
The Best Offer
As one might expect from the title, the film tells about one of the world’s most renowned auctioneers. This man, Virgil Oldman, played by Geoffrey Rush, mostly deals in art and other antiques such as vintage furniture collected from old homes. Oldman also has quite the art collection himself. To obtain all this art, he runs a little scheme with his long time friend Billy, played by Donald Sutherland. Oldman would sell off highly valuable items as something common, while Billy sits in the audience getting the winning bid. Aside from auctioneering, Virgil Oldman leads a rather secluded life. He often sets out on his own when asked to evaluate collections offered to him to auction off.
One day, Oldman receives a phone call from a mysterious woman, Claire, played by Sylvia Hoeks. She has an old mansion filled with antiques her parents left her. Since she has no use for all the stuff, she wants to sell it all. Claire has a mysterious affliction. She is afraid to be seen by others, and for that reason is afraid to leave the mansion. Oldman is intrigued by this and develops an obsession with Claire. While the items in the house are being evaluated, Oldman keeps finding small pieces of something called an automaton.
His friend Robert, played by Jim Sturgess, assembles the automaton while Oldman talks to him about Claire. Oldman visits Robert in his repair shop every once in a while, usually when he has found some new automaton pieces. In the meanwhile, Oldman tries to catch a glimpse of Claire. Is she in the house or isn’t she? Can he make her trust him so she will show herself to him? And is there more to it all than meets the eye?
I’ll leave the story be with that spiffy cliff hanger. There is plenty more to say about this film however. The whole atmosphere is simply breathtaking. All the old mansions, furniture and art give the film a wonderful visual vibe. Not to mention the automaton slowly being assembled, or Oldman’s private room. Some of the characters are intriguing. Of course there is Claire, but what’s up with the strange woman in the pub across the street? Also Oldman himself is an interesting man. Greedy, obsessive, but trying to be another man to impress Claire.
Last but not least there is the music. The Best Offer features a musical score by the great Ennio Morricone. It is one of his many many musical contributions to film, and while it isn’t Once Upon a Time in the West, it is still really good and it all fits the film perfectly. It isn’t the first time Tornatore and Morricone combine forces either. If you liked The Legend of 1900, you will also love this one. And if this sounds great, also be sure to check that one out!
So what up? Is there nothing wrong with this film? Well nothing major I can think of. If Denglish (Dutch-English) accents bother you, Claire might annoy you a bit. However it didn’t bother me much even though I usually strongly dislike the accent. Another issue might lie with the plot/story. While there is plenty of it, to some it may seem obvious what is going on, and some of it may be a little – or very – far fetched. One is definitely required to use ones imagination and allow the boundaries of reality to be stretched a little a time or two. But whether or not you ‘get it’ early on, the film is still so much worth watching. One of last year’s best films in my opinion.