Actors: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: April 29, 2014
Run Time: 131 minutes
The filmmaking in The Best Offer is absolutely breathtaking, a spectacular reminder of the seemingly effortless talent still remaining in veteran director Giuseppe Tornatore’s bag of tricks. This magnificent display of old school ability may also be the downfall of The Best Offer, whose narrative can never live up to the perfection in Tornatore’s technique. It isn’t a bad story, just one with substance undeserving of the film’s perfection in style. Every aspect of the film is exemplary, from production design to the cinematography capturing it, Ennio Morricone’s brilliant soundtrack to the sound effects evoking emotion out of seemingly arbitrary actions within the film. All of the filmmaking is expertly capable, but none of it deserving of the fairly derivative and predictable Hitchcockian screenplay Tornatore provides.
Tornatore once again brings us a lonely protagonist, flawed by solitary obsession of art. In Cinema Paradiso it was a love of cinema, music in The Legend of 1900, and in The Best Offer it is fine art and antiques which takes up the life of famed auctioneer Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush). This passion is somewhat tainted in Virgil, however, due to his quick temper, superiority complex and a secret hoarding of artwork deemed worthy of his private collection. To make matters even worse, and simultaneously forshadowing a likely fall from grace, Virgil’s means of collecting these pieces of historically significant artwork are less than honorable, utilizing the help of a loyally silent cohort (Donald Sutherland) at his auctions.
Virgil’s strict regiment of distancing himself from others extends as far as his tendency to dine alone. He does not even remove his gloves to dine, so that he is never in direct physical contact with the world around him. All of this routine and carefully constructed behavior is turned upside down when Virgil is invited to appraise the home of a reclusive young heiress named Claire (Sylvia Hoeks). Virgil finds his own methods of distancing people begin to fall away as he is exposed to Claire’s extreme behavior, going further than agoraphobia to the point that she does not even allow others to see her face-to-face in her own home.
The great mystery of Tornatore’s screenplay is simply what genre he is working within, and that is not revealed until near the end of the final act. Once this is discovered, the twists and turns in the ending are easily predicted, but that makes them no less a joy to watch in the skilled hands of the artists collaborating here. Rush is mesmerizing in the tragically flawed role, Tornatore is a master of invoking emotion from cinematic technique, and this is effortlessly helped along by longtime musical collaborator Morricone. Despite the flaws of the film, it is still a joy to watch these professionals at work.
The DVD includes only a trailer for special features.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 2/10