A prominent art auctioneer, Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush), is tasked with cataloguing the contents of a large mansion that’s owned by a shut-in named Claire (Sylvia Hoeks). Oldman is fascinated by Clarie’s odd behaviour and involves himself in her life.
Oldman is a fascinating character who finds the company of his possessions more pleasing than people. Enter Claire, who indulges Oldman’s obsessions while finding common ground as someone who has difficulty facing the world. Tornatore does a fantastic job of keeping the plot on a tenterhook as Claire’s frenetic behaviour pushes Oldman away, yet he keeps returning to her manor looking for answers. The deeper Oldman gets into the relationship, the more he starts to lose his composure and it’s a great way to show that something is amiss. The brilliant thing about The Best Offer is how easily Tornatore eases you into a comfort zone. While in dramatic bliss there is manoeuvring that goes on unnoticed, right under your nose, yet when it comes time for Tornatore to reveal the film’s big secrets you’ll be kicking yourself for missing the trickery. One can only manage a smirk and raise some kind of alcoholic beverage to Tornatore; well played sir!
Tornatore does get exceedingly lenient with the story as it plods over repetitive ground throughout the middle section as if to delay the film’s final punch for the sake of our attention. It’s was like watching a magician fumble around in a top hat looking for a rabbit.
Rush really puts forward the case for a statue to be built in his honour with The Best Offer. He is perfectly pretentious yet earns sympathy in quiet melancholic moments. Rush slowly lets Oldman’s guard fall down and the situation becomes frenzied as he loses control. There are two sides to the character Rush portrays and it's a delectable transformation. Hoeks is vulnerable in lots of her scenes, even when she is present only in voice, and there is an alluring fragility when she finally appears. Despite a vast age difference there is a chemistry between Rush and Hoeks that is undeniable and quite sweet. Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland are great supports as Oldman’s sounding boards for advice and Kiruna Stamell is excellent as a mathematical guru.
The Best Offer is the cinematic equivalent of quicksand. By the time you realise something is awry you’ll already be in far too deep.
Cameron Williams - follow Cam on Twitter here: @popcornjunkies