|Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush) admiring his secret collection of ladies in Giuseppe Tornatore�s The Best Offer.|
Guest Contributor Jonathan Stevenson / In Giuseppe Tornatore�s The Best Offer, Geoffrey Rush, who never fails to ebulliently exude neurosis, plays Virgil Oldman � a high-end art auctioneer so learned and perspicacious that even his two-man operation apparently competes with Christie�s and Sotheby�s, and so fastidious that he even eats dinner wearing gloves selected from a vast display case at his vault-like compound. But as Hitchcock taught us, nobody with that kind of eccentricity is likely to find bliss without ordeal. Oldman�s need to control his world down to the minutest detail makes him a covetous fraudster. He spots the obscure work of great artists in the estates he evaluate, deems them admirable forgeries, auctions them to a paid accomplice (an agreeably hammy Donald Sutherland) for a fraction of their true value, and hoards them in his own secret museum. This larcenous side, of course, is his great vulnerability.
|Geoffrey Rush and Donald Sutherland|
For all his public esteem and private wealth, Oldman�s life has been loveless until he is hired by Claire Ibbetson (a pallid Sylvia Hoeks) � a much younger novelist driven by personal tragedy to confine herself to a decaying estate � to assess her family�s possessions. He falls hard for her, and extends his desire to possess what he loves to Claire herself, coaxing her from her self-imposed prison only in effect to sequester her in one of his own devising. Until its generously telegraphed denouement, the film unfolds like a folie � deux in which two high-functioning agoraphobics improbably find each other and live unhappily ever after. Despite Rush�s best efforts, lovely cinematography, and a plot twist, it�s a labored movie, with too many seams showing � Hitchcock-lite.
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