25 September 2015 | tomsview
"The Best Offer" is an unusual, stylish movie with a clever story.
From the beginning we sense there is a mystery at its heart, and indeed, it keeps you wondering right to the end.
I wouldn't give away too much of the plot and spoil the enjoyment for anyone discovering it for the first time, however there are other things to enjoy about "The Best Offer" other than the twists and turns of the story.
Geoffrey Rush plays Virgil Oldman, a successful art connoisseur and auctioneer who is asked to evaluate and sell the estate of Claire Ibbetson (Sylvia Hoeks), a reclusive young heiress who has not left her home for years. Virgil is a man of epicurean taste, who also has some carefully guarded issues regarding his near worship of beautiful women, which has manifested itself in an impressive private collection of paintings of women through the ages.
As he begins to catalogue the Ibbetson estate, we realise that the artefacts he uncovers and the growing relationship with his strange young client touch not only his vanities but also probe his phobias and fantasies.
This is a film of many layers. We get an insider view of a world of wealth, privilege and a taste, but we also get an intimate look at Virgil Oldman; we see beyond the aloof, cool exterior to the man of deeply repressed vulnerabilities - it is a thoughtful performance by Geoffrey Rush.
There is a great deal of artwork shown in the film including a couple of portraits by a fictional artist named Jansky, supposedly of great value, and important to the plot. Paintings that receive great reverence in movies are sometimes a bit of a let down when they appear on the screen, often being simply retouched photos ("Laura") or just badly executed works that show the producers had little taste or knowledge of art.
That is not the case here, the filmmakers obviously went to some trouble to commission paintings from a very good artist (Russian artist Katerina Panikakova according to one source) and the interesting-looking portraits fit perfectly into the superb look and feel of the whole film.
"The Best Offer" is an Italian production, and the love of art and beauty lends an Italian sensibility to the whole thing. Adding to the atmosphere is the distinctive Ennio Morricone score.
Although the Mamet-esque ending brings the drama to a logical enough conclusion, like many films, the journey is the most satisfying aspect of "The Best Offer" - even if, sadly, it only reinforces the notion that there is no fool like an old fool.