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Review: The Best Offer

Drama, Recommended, World Cinema Add comments

Best Offer Still 4RECOMMENDED

Giuseppe Tornatore’s eleventh feature, “The Best Offer,” (La migliore offerta) mingles spunk and mildew in its melodramatic take on a wealthy, solitary art expert and auctioneer, Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush), turning to fraud late in life, at his sixty-third birthday, over, wouldn’t you know it, a young woman (Sylvia Hoeks) who has an estate to be settled. Mysteries coil from every conversation and encounter; the story’s scaffolding will shift with the slightest wind. Tornatore’s customary flourishes abound: His camera remains as high-strung as his eye for furnishings stays cool. There are pricey or picayune details everywhere, down to the ever-shifting state of Rush’s hair. Rush begins at louche and arrives at lovingly ripe: as ever, he’s a clown of Shakespearean largess. He gets Tornatore’s joke, and how to dance along a line to keep it from devolving into camp, no matter how many things pile up: forgeries, automatons, wax cylinders, vast rooms with high walls clotted with centuries of purloined portraits of women: no end, no end to the detail. Jim Sturgess is on hand as a mechanical whiz, and Donald Sutherland’s snowy beard makes an appearance along with Sutherland, who plays a painter friend of Oldman’s. The hodge-podge of stuff remains watchable, if slightly in the shadows from the bonkeroo rendition of art-world shenanigans in Danny Boyle’s self-immolating “Trance.” (As well as the sixty-fifth birthday melancholy on display in “The Great Beauty.”) Comparatively, as thrillers go, “The Best Offer” is a forgery of catnip. The Morricone-esque score is by Ennio Morricone. 131m. (Ray Pride)

“The Best Offer” is now playing at Siskel through January 30.

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