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American Women's Club of Hamburg

The Best Offer

Italy 2013
Starts March 21

Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore
Writing credits:  Giuseppe Tornatore
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks, Donald Sutherland, Philip Jackson, Dermot Crowley
Length: 124 minutes

the bestThis romantic drama/thriller centers on the late first love of an elderly auctioneer. Virgil Oldmann (Rush) is a widely successful and arrogant art connoisseur as well as auctioneer. The only way he gets intimate with women is in his safe-like parlor full of females on canvas. His distaste for people in general is expressed in his compulsion not to touch things without gloves or a protective layer of tissue. One day he is summoned to the mansion of the mysterious Claire (Hoeks) in order to evaluate her inheritance. Virgil is as much annoyed as intrigued by the fact that Claire has not seen anyone but her parents face to face since she was 15. Not knowing what to do about his conflicted feelings, he turns to his only friend Robert (Sturgess), a young tinkerer who is reassembling an antique automaton out of parts found in Claire’s mansion. With Robert’s help, Virgil is able to gain Claire’s trust until she finally lets him see her. At the same time, Virgil transforms into a man with a heart, and for Claire, he even takes off his gloves. All could be well now, but is it?

Like in the art world, not all might be real, as Virgil’s painter assistant (Sutherland) states: “emotions can be forged like works of art”. While, for me, the first half of the film was all about art, the second part was about emotions. At first I thought: “Oh, this is kind of a reverse Cupid and Psyche thing going on here, how endearing”. But then things started to feel off. And I must say that I was so caught by Geoffrey Rush’s performance and what was going on with his character, that I didn’t see it coming, and when it came, I didn’t understand completely- and I am still trying to. I didn’t necessarily like this movie for the message. I liked it for the art, even the fashion and, most of all, for playing with my expectations in an entertaining way. ()


Virgil Oldman (Rush) is a man of very refined tastes. His villa, where he lives alone, is sumptuously immaculate with white interiors and walls of closets to keep everything in its place, like multiple shelves of custom shoes and sensuous leather gloves. As the managing director of a leading auction house that sells fine paintings, among other treasures, he is widely respected. Oldman’s villa also has a secret gallery full of priceless portraits of women. He has succeeded in collecting the paintings by purchasing them for under-valued prices at his own auctions with the help of his friend Billy (Sutherland). With no woman in his life, he spends his evenings admiring his painted beauties. That is, until a mysterious woman named Claire (Hoeks) calls and asks him to sell her family’s valuable possessions. Oldman is intrigued by Claire who repeatedly misses appointments with him and later, after he learns that she has agoraphobia, speaks with him only behind a closed door. However, with the help of his mechanical genius friend Robert’s (Sturgess) expert advice on girls, Oldman begins to build a relationship with Claire as he catalogues her family antiques. No surprise, the old man becomes Claire’s lover. He helps her overcome her agoraphobia and later introduces her to his gallery girls. Unfortunately, the rest of the story is quite predictable as well. But the painting and antiques are gorgeous, the locations lovely, and doesn’t every lonely old man fantasize about a helpless young babe to rescue? No question: Oldman wasn’t Claire’s best offer, but Rush does manage an amusing sales campaign.

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