Recently while browsing Netflix, I happened upon the film The Best Offer, the most recent offering by writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore. I have never before had the opportunity to view any of Tornatore's previous works and was initially hesitant about investing two-plus hours of my time into a filmmaker who I was not already familiar with.
Though, after realizing the cast was strewn with some of my favourite actors (Geoffrey Rush, Donald Sutherland and Jim Sturgess) I hit play and so began one of the most interesting and shocking films I have ever seen.
Rush plays Virgil Oldman, a wealthy auctioneer with quite a taste for beautiful female portraits. The real story begins when Oldman receives a call from Claire Ibbetson (Sylvia Hoeks), a reclusive heiress who wishes to auction off her family estate after the deaths of her parents.
From the start, their relationship is an explosive one. Oldman, whose narcissistic tendencies make him quick to anger, constantly feels slighted by Ibbetson as she misses meeting after meeting. We soon learn that she has been under his nose all along.
Ibbetson is extremely agoraphobic and we learn that she has not left the house or spoken with anyone face-to-face in more than 15 years. Oldman, with many odd quirks of his own is immediately drawn to her and they quickly become close friends through their shared fear of letting anyone become too close.
As Oldman continues to catalogue her estate we continue to learn more about each character: Oldman isn't exactly a good guy, Ibbetson seems to want to work through her problems with Oldman's help and the remaining characters continue to evolve, leaving the viewer to wonder why they are getting so much screen time when they seem to simply be supporting characters.
The ending of this film is much debated by critics. If you watch films expecting a nice, tidy wrap-up at the end, this film is not for you... But, if you are anything like me and prefer a story that portrays human flaws and leaves the ending in such a way that you feel the film is less of a fictitious work and more of a story that those of us in the real world can relate to.
All-in-all The Best Offer pleasantly surprised me. It started out a bit slow but it led to such a surprising ending which very tidily answered all the questions I had throughout, while also leaving me wanting more.
I rate this film 4 stars out of 5. If you are interested in viewing it for yourself it can be found on Canadian Netflix.