There have been mixed reviews for Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore’s latest masterpiece. His name is perhaps not extensively known in Australia, but some may remember his film Baarìa, a beautiful piece from 2009. The Best Offer may just be his best to date, showcasing his talents as both a director and a writer, casting insight to the mind of a man who clearly has a great passion for film. Composer Ennio Morricone is most likely better recognised, known primarily for his score work in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), and he does not fail to deliver on this film.
There is a beautiful simplicity in translated work, especially that derived from Italian. The script was a lesson in fundaments, shying away from superfluity and relying on aesthetics to carry the viewer through. The score and cinematography went a long way to granting understanding to the viewer, in places that a typical Hollywood film might feel the need to state explicitly. On the subject of cinematography, this film, like its subject matter, was an absolute work of art. There seemed a crispness to each scene, every item placed just so. The score had a peculiar theme of eeriness to it, adding a sense of thrill to the film, leaving no intended atmosphere unknown. These qualities together created something so very undeniably Italian, a rich undertone of love and heartbreak.
Asked to describe this film, I would be unable to say anything but ‘beautifully cruel’. It follows the life and work of Virgil Oldman, an auction house director with a very hard exterior and an outwardly high opinion of himself, yet who suffers obvious insecurities. It seems only fitting, then, that he would fall in love with a young woman as removed from society as himself, who hides herself from the world. Through an ostensible plot of evaluating the treasures of her deceased parents, the film soon falls into a theme of suspense and intrigue. It is hard to say too much more on the plot without spoiling it, but I will consent to saying that despite the few obviously cliché moments, there still remains a true depth behind this film, fuelled by artful silence and a script that will make you think twice.
A truly superb performance by Geoffrey Rush, but then, who would expect anything less. This man knows his craft intimately and the role of Oldman was perfectly suited to him. Wonderfully executed, I will say no more. I can only give the highest of praise, also, to Jim Sturgess, Donald Sutherland, and Sylvia Hoeks as well. A truly outstanding cast. All in all, despite the harsh reviews of some of the critics, the numerous awards this film has won – spanning from best film to best score to even best costumes – just can’t be ignored.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Best Offer appeared in Australian cinemas recently – with limited screenings still scattered around the country – and will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 15 Jan 2014.