Monday, October 7, 2013

The Best Offer: Not Enough Sting in the Tale!

Writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore's The Best Offer is an Italian film in English with Australian and Dutch leads. Geoffrey Rush plays Virgil Oldman with Sylvia Hoeks as Claire Ibbetson. Virgil is a top-end art and antiques dealer with mysophobia - a hygiene freak. His signature gloves play an important role in the mystery. Rush carries off the role of the eccentric with his usual ease.

On the other hand (no pun intended) Claire seems to suffer two fears: agoraphobia (open spaces) and scopophobia (being seen). It's not the stuff of which romance is usually made. Rush carries off the role of eccentric with his usual ease. It is hard to tell whether Hoeks' performance is wooden or it stems from the character.

My biggest disappointment with this movie is that its surprise climax is too easy to guess. Its overly long 131 minutes probably contribute to this. Too much free time to speculate! Perhaps the subtlety was lost in translation. The inclusion of an historic automaton as plot device has echoes of Martin Scorsese' Hugo.

Like Rush, Donald Sutherland is well cast as the roguish Billy Whistler. He is as well-worn as his character's unimaginative name. Come to think of it so is Virgil's surname. Jim Sturgess adds the youngman stud factor as Robert. The ambiguity of his occupation of artificer is another of the hints. Anyway, enough spoilers already.

The high quality photography, sets and costumes give the film a charm and elegance that help to redeem its rather pedestrian plot. If you try to block out the hints and blatant clues, The Best Offer is an agreeable enough experience.

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