“La Migliore Offerta” (“The Best Offer”) was a showcase piece at Tokyo International Film Festival, and as such it’s a bit showy. But with Giuseppe Tornatore (of “Cinema Paradiso”) at the helm and starring Geoffrey Rush (whose roles include the Marquis de Sade and King George’s vocal coach), a dose of pretentiousness was to be expected.
Rush’s Virgil Oldman is on the brink of old age and set in his obsessive-compulsive ways. But wealth and an art curator’s expertise, as well as a highly successful career in auctioneering, have protected Virgil from worldly unpleasantness. The man loves only two things: antique art and his private collection of beautiful women’s portraits.
Virgil receives a mysterious call from an heiress (Sylvia Hoeks) asking him to come to her family villa to evaluate the art and antiques. Claire never shows herself but guides him with her voice from behind a wall and some letters she pushes under the doors. It turns out Claire is agoraphobic and gorgeous, and it doesn’t take long for Virgil to become hooked. This is when the story takes on the guise of a thriller: Who is Claire really, and what is her ultimate design?
“La Migliore” is a slow-burner, fueled by an old man’s fear of disappointment, balanced precariously with his gripping need for intimacy. Never mind, Claire: In the end it’s Virgil you’ll be feeling for.