Movie Review: The Best Offer (2013) Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess

The Best Offer Geoffrey Rush movie still

Over-telegraphing betrays ending, but still an intriguing romantic mystery drama with a faultless performance by Geoffrey Rush

This multiple award-winning Italian English film focuses on the character named Virgil Oldman, a highly respected and yet eccentric managing director of a high-end auction house. Played faultlessly by the “Triple Crown of Acting” winner Geoffrey Rush (The Book Thief, The King’s Speech, Pirates of the Caribbean films), Virgil is a hygiene paranoid and a wealthy unmarried elderly man who isolates himself from others. The only friends he has is Robert (Jim Sturgees), a young playboy-ish but brilliant mechanic, and Billy (Donald Sutherland), an accomplice who helps him with his scams of acquiring highly valuable paintings of females which he collects to fill the lonely walls of his secret chamber at his home.

One day, Virgin is hired by a young heiress by the name of Claire Ibbetson (Sylvia Hoeks) to help auction off a large collection of art and antiques left by her parents, but for unknown reasons, she keeps failing to meet him face to face. Oops, did I just address Virgil as VirgiN? Well that’s because he is. He’s never bedded a woman before in his life. Compelled by this mysterious woman who’s at least half his age, he goes out of his usual routine and behaviour to satisfy her. He gradually becomes attracted and obsessed by this helpless innocent lady whom nobody has ever seen in person, always hiding behind a wall in her mansion.

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The dialogues written by the director Giuseppe Tornatore are very cheesy to say the least but it’s understandable considering that he’s an Italian and this is an Italian production. The performance of cast except for Rush is lacklustre and practically emotionless, and it felt that it’s a waste to have Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas, Upside Down, Across the Universe) to only play a supporting role of a character with limited screen time who offers woman-courting advice to Virgil. In the first place, it’s not even explained why Virgil would make friends with someone like Robert, who’s small-time mechanic way younger than he is. But other than that, almost everything else that seems wrong in the story actually has a very good excuse. Apologies, there’s just no way to go on reviewing this film without spoilers, so if you intend to watch it, skip to the summary section below because knowing any more of the storyline may take away the fun. You have been warned.

Initially, I was frustrated with how disjointed and overly convenient the film is. Especially the scene where Claire, who’s supposedly an agoraphobic, suddenly becomes comfortable enough to allow Virgil to go close to her and touch her in their unexpected first time of seeing each other face-to-face. And the scene where Virgil gets violently robber outside of Claire’s mansion immediately after Robert advised him that Claire’s love for him will naturally get her to overcome her fear of stepping out of her home. There are a lot of back and forth of go-away-no-please-stay and I-hate-you-no-sorry-I-love-you that are quite annoying. It may also feel very wrong as the film seems like as thought it’s positively about how a rich elderly man could have a relationship with an innocent girl. However, all that makes sense towards the end where the twist is revealed – Claire, Billy and Robert were working together to con their way into Virgil’s secret chamber and rob the paintings that Billy helped acquire.

Best Offer geoffrey rush virgin movie meme

It is the perfect scam through flawless seduction. To lure the victim deeper and deeper, compel, reject, accept and then reject again before hitting the home run of gaining full trust. Blinded by self-esteem, emotions, greed and lust, Virgil loses his usual meticulous ways and logic senses, thus allowing Claire play him out cold. However, the film’s straightforwardness may be the cause of its lack of heart and soul, almost just as much as most made-for-television films. Audience may find it difficult to sympathise Virgil or even be convinced by his relationship with the characters, and that, unfortunately, is the factor to why the film fails to effectively convey its main theme and point, that “human emotions are like a work of art, it can be forged”.

The film laid out way too many obvious clues, telegraphing the ending twist to a point that the audience could easily predict from miles away. Most of the time watching movies of this genre, I’d feel challenged to solve the mystery, but I would hope that my guesses are wrong and that the reveal at the end is more satisfyingly sophisticated and brilliant, something that nobody could’ve guessed and yet it makes sense with all the clues that are already subtly laid out throughout the movie. But maybe the predictable twist is the intended Best Offer from the film to the audience. It’s engaging, fun and it allows the audience to successfully solve the mystery by themselves, all that packaged with beautiful visuals and music score.

What I would’ve named the film: “Virgin Oldman”

Censorship in Malaysia: Most nudity and graphic sex scenes are cut, but vulgarities aren’t.

Second opinion: My girlfriend said she liked it very much and that it kept her guessing until the end.

Verdict: After watching the film, I felt like I’ve beaten a guessing game in easy mode, but it wasn’t boring to play.

Rating: 3 / 5

Italian Title: La Migliore Offerta

Country/Language: Italy/English
Genre: Romance, mystery, crime, drama
Running Time: 131 minutes
Director-Writer: Giuseppe Tornatore
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks, and Donald Sutherland

Malaysia Release Date: 30 October 2014 (in conjunction with EUFF 2014 at select GSC outlets only)
Rated: 18
Local Distributor: GSC Movies
Production: Paco Cinematografica, Warner Bros.

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