The Best Offer (2013)
|The Best Offer|
|Music by||Ennio Morricone|
|Edited by||Massimo Quaglia|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
The Best Offer is a 2013 Italian English language romantic mystery film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The film stars Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks, and Donald Sutherland, and the music score is composed by Ennio Morricone.
The film tells a story of love and deceit, set in Europe (Trieste, Bolzano, Fidenza, Rome, Milan, Merano, Vienna, Prague) in the world of ultra high-end art auctions and antiques. The story revolves around Virgil Oldman, an aging, wealthy, and esteemed, but somewhat standoffish and eccentric, managing director of a preeminent auction house. Oldman is hired by a mysterious young heiress, Claire Ibbetson, to auction off the large collection of art and antiques left to her by her parents. Claire always refuses to be seen in person, suffering from severe agoraphobia and never leaving her room. Soon enough Virgil, a lifelong bachelor who is able to relate to her reclusiveness, understands that he has fallen in love with her.
An astute young artificer, Robert, aids Oldman in restoring and reassembling some odd mechanical parts that he finds amongst Claire’s belongings, while also giving him advice on how to befriend her, and how to deal with his feelings towards her. Oldman’s poise and prestige are counterpointed by an ongoing scam whereby his friend Billy Whistler helps him acquire a large private collection of master portraits worth many millions, by presenting them at auction as the work of other artists. Billy is an aspiring artist himself, but Oldman does not take Billy’s work seriously.
A side narrative involves Virgil discovering a moldy, charred piece of wood at another client’s mansion. Professional restoration reveals a painting underneath which Virgil claims is the work of a famed 17th-century forger. Virgil notes to these other clients that all forgers are irresistibly tempted to modify the original, which reveals the forger’s own artistic sensibilities. At auction, the painting is sold for £90,000, but after Virgil notes that it was in fact an original worth some £8 million, Billy buys the painting for Virgil from its original buyer for £250,000.
Oldman eventually begins a relationship with Ibbetson, compromising his work. At the peak of the relationship, Claire overcomes her fear of the outside world and goes on to live with Virgil, who trusts the fragile Claire enough to show her his secret priceless collection of female portraits. Overcome with emotion, Claire tells Virgil that no matter what may happen to the two of them, she does love him. Virgil returns home one day to find that his entire collection and Claire are gone. In the vault is an automaton constructed from the mechanical parts Virgil gave to Robert, which plays a message from Robert saying there is something real in every forgery and that is why Robert will truly miss Virgil. Virgil realizes that he is the victim of an elaborate fraud conducted by Robert, Claire, and Billy, but is unable to go to the police due to the illicit means by which Virgil himself acquired the pieces. After months of recovering from the betrayal in a mental institution, Virgil takes a trip to Prague, where he spends time sitting in a restaurant that Claire had once suggested, waiting alone at a table wondering if Claire’s statement of love was forged or a genuine sentiment she imparted on the con.