Director: Giuseppe Tornatore Writer: Giuseppe Tornatore Actors: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks, Donald Sutherland Runtime: 131 mins Rating: R
Any time a film is released starring Geoffrey Rush, one cannot help but become a little excited. Prior to The Book Thief, the veteran actor took on the lead role in Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Best Offer, a film that was released early last year in the European market and makes its way to the U.S. in January 2014.
Set in various locations in Europe – including Prague, Milan, and Rome – the story follows Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush), a self-made and proud auctioneer known to be one of the best in the business. Virgil finds himself dealing with a young heiress named Claire Ibbetson (Sylvia Hoeks), who is looking to auction off her family belongings. Their meetings, however, are quite unorthodox, an element that acts as a catalyst towards creating the most unlikely of bonds.
Tornatore has created a film with multiple elements and subjects. At its core, it emphasizes the contrast between fake and authentic, applying it to every aspect of the film. The direction is simple, keeping the focus on the talent and their performances. The film, however, slips with its overall story. The film is an emotional experience, but there are moments in the film that just drag on or repeat themselves. Certain scenes, even with the extraordinary performances by Rush, are simply not necessary. The overall film could have been shorter and the pace quickened, letting the focus remain on the unravelment of the great mystery. The decision to keep the pace as is can be understood, but that, coupled with the slow direction, stretches ones patience quite thin.
One thing I did appreciate about the film was the music composition by Ennio Morricone. The music keeps pace with the events of the film and the various moods created by character actions. In addition, the music does compliment the overarching theme of the film and the setting in which the film takes place. It is never over the top, and works in the background without being overly distracting.
The film contains a selection of good performances, all of which are overshadowed by that delivered by Geoffrey Rush. He is an artistic force to be reckoned with; his poise, his confidence in his character, and his seamless flow of emotions let him deliver a truly astonishing performance. One could care less about the other characters as a result, and that, unfortunately, is where the problem lies. The other actors, including Donald Sutherland and Jim Sturgess, provide but lukewarm performances. This likely has more to do with how their characters were written rather than their actual performances; however, at the end of the day, one simply does not care about their characters in any way. One character one certainly ends up expecting more from is that of Sylvia Hoeks’ Claire. With the nature of her character and her importance in the overall story line, the performance felt incomplete, leaving me a little disappointed. Overall, it seems the weight of delivering great performance was thrown onto Rush’s shoulders, something one cannot help but notice even with Rush managing that responsibility quite well.
Tornatore has definitely created a film that puts curiosity into the world of auctioneering. Casting Rush in the lead role was a wise decision; however, the film lacks a number of elements that could have pushed it further. It isn’t a bad film by any means, but it does leave you wanting more. If you are going to watch The Best Offer purely to see Geoffrey Rush do what he does best, you will not be disappointed. Anything more, and you will have to, unfortunately, keep an open mind.