In The Best Offer, Geoffrey Rush plays Virgil Oldman, one of Europe’s leading Fine Art Auctioneers. On the surface, Virgil’s prissy, fastidious and perfectionist – think Hannibal Lector in his Dr. Fell / Florence period. Underneath that grim and charmless exterior lies a grim and charmless interior; he colludes with a fellow scam artist to falsely identify fakes so that priceless pieces can be sold off cheaply, and he becomes completely, creepily obsessed with an agoraphobic and reclusive heiress many, MANY years his junior. Whether she is all that she seems provides the underlying tensions of the plot. (Spoiler: she’s not.)
So The Best Offer plays out as a deeply European film, something that’s heightened by the number of grand Italianate buildings that serve as visual markers for Anytown, Europe (where they nevertheless speak a stilting kind of English.) It’s sort of a brooding drama-romance-crime movie (it’s not clear which) that’s subtitled by a swooping score by Ennio Morricone. It’s ok – Geoffrey Rush (a human Droopy Dawg) is excellent – but I found it very, very slow and thus ultimately unsatisfying.