There is so much fun to be had with the title of this film in terms of reviewing it because Italian director Guiseppe Tornatore’s English-language debut The Best Offer is indeed one of the best cinema offerings for 2013. It features an exceptional performance from Geoffrey Rush, the production design is simple yet immensely elegant and beautiful and the score and cinematography both evoke intrigue and awe. The supporting cast of Sylvia Hoeks, Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland hold their own amidst Rush’s marvellous talents and help create incredibly organic chemistry amidst all the characters.
The Best Offer is about an eccentric art auctioneer/collector, Virgil Oldman, who
develops an obsession with an heiress whom has just contacted him personally about an estate she has inherited filled with bygone era items, including furniture and artwork. From the moment he accepts the offer to do a valuation, the story becomes all the more mystifying, and it is a story that will grab you instantly, sway you about and stay with you long after the credits roll.
Virgil is a man of solitude, distancing himself from human contact and austerely avoiding experiencing normal human emotions. He only ever seems comfortable around two distinct characters – a young artificer, and a close friend and partner-in-crime when it comes to collecting valuable artwork. He begins to unravel when he meets the heiress under rather atypical circumstances.
The film parallels art with life and offers two intertwining ideas – that everything can be faked, and that every forgery of something contains a hint of authenticity to it. Both artwork and human emotion can be forged, and every forgery will contain the genuine mark of its own creator (accidental or deliberate) and not the creator being imitated – no matter how small or discreet the mark is.
The further The Best Offer dives into its core mystery, the more apparent this parallel of concepts becomes, and the greater the curiosity becomes as to what it all means for the characters.
The score, unsurprisingly, is composed by none other than the supreme Ennio Morricone. One of the most noticeable and memorable things about The Best Offer is it’s hauntingly mesmerising score which compliments the darkly aesthetic qualities of the imagery upon the screen and both the mysterious burgeoning connection between Virgil and the heiress and the disentangling of Virgil’s tightly wound personality.
The Best Offer is one of the best films of the year because there is nothing to fault it on. It’s one of the most pleasurable experiences at the cinemas of the year, even if the film is not necessarily tonally vibrant and happy. It is visually striking, it is a master class of acting, and the story is beautifully constructed. It’s a crime many will miss out on this film in favour of other more box-office friendly films.
Reviewer: David Thomas Williams.