The first movie of 2014 here. Yes, technically released here in the states on New Year’s, The Best Offer is the first 2014 U.S. release. Yet, this film has been around for quite some time now. Released internationally in most markets already, The Best Offer has been earning respective box office numbers overseas over the past year, and also has been earning a great deal of awards. The film has been earning many nominations from different international film festivals, even wining the Italian-equivalent of Best Picture. It seems like The Best Offer would be a film that would translate well to the states.
Oddly enough, the film is not. The film is largely being dumped onto the On Demand and limited theater platform, despite having a highly-regarded cast and big enough budget behind it. Not only does it seems not a lot of people have seen it, but those who have are not liking it. The Best Offer currently holds a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, with most major review outlets tearing the film apart. Surprisingly enough to myself, The Best Offer is an engaging Hitchcockian thriller, that is not getting the credit it deserves.
The Best Offer follows Virgil Oldman, a pristine manger of a highly-regarded auction house. Virgil, who usual follows a set routine, changes as he grows an obsession for a heiress Claire.
As far aesthetics go, this movie is very appealing. Cinematographer Fabio Zamarion has mostly done lesser known films in his career, but his work here is terrific. The shots in the film for the most part have a balance between restraint when need be, and moments of unique style that really diversify the film’s look. Whether or not the shot is stylish, each shot of the film looks undeniably crisp and gorgeous.
Accompanying this great look is an impressive score by Ennio Morricone. Nominated five times by the Academy Awards, Morricone knows just the right touch a movie needs with its score, and really does the job here. His score is very bold and dramatic, but that really fits what the movie is going for in its more thrilling moments. These two elements combined are very harmonious, and create some great moments.
Matching the great aesthetics are equally good performances. Geoffrey Rush is still one of the best actors we have working today, and gives an exquisite performance here. Rush brings a great deal of depth to this seemingly simple character, while being aloof throughout. His performance really creates the heart of the film, as you really care for this guy even through his mistakes.
The supporting players in the cast also did a nice job. Jim Sturgess to me is a guy who does not get enough credit. From playing an Asian in Cloud Atlas, to his charming role in 21, Sturgess has always shown range, presence, and charm. Here, he gives a good performance that has quite a few impressive layers to it. From top to bottom, from newcomers like Sylvia Hoeks, to veterans like Donald Sutherland, the cast is consistently good.
Giuseppe Tornatore is a name some people may have never heard of, but he is quite the accomplished director. Directing Oscar nominated foreign films like Cinema Paradiso and Malena, Tornatore made quite the name for himself, but that has yet to translate to much mainstream success. Yet again, Tornatore gives another exceptional direction job here.
Essentially, Tornatore directs this film very much as an ode to Alfred Hitchcock. The Best Offer is a Hitchcockian thriller at its core, and Tornatore treats it like one for sure. This very much is a slowly paced film, but the great direction here makes the slow pace fine, due to how engrossing the film is. Every moment of this film to me, from the fine details to the big dramatic moments, had me on the edge of my seat. The way Tornatore builds tension is sublime, turning this kind of weird story into something very interesting
Tornatore was also tasked with writing the script, and did a solid enough job with that. The script and film in general reminded me a great deal of the classic thriller Vertigo, with the film at its heart being a character study. Tornatore’s script is rich, with great dialogue from characters and some rather powerful moments. However, the film’s flaws derive from its screenplay.
Like I mentioned, the film is very much similar to Vertigo, and in the end is ultimately a bit too similar. Just read the plot descriptions to both in a row; they are almost the exact same. Although the ending of the two are different, another issue came with the fact that I pretty much guessed the ending early on, which took some of the tension out of the film for me for sure.
Also an issue is the film’s themes. While the concepts in the film that are established are interesting ones, but often very obvious and overdone. For the most part, the themes were conveyed well, but in the end, it just became overkill for me, ruining some of the overall effect of those themes.
The Best Offer is a Hitchcockian thriller at heart, sometimes even to a fault. Even through its stumbles, it’s an engrossing, well-performed, and beautiful looking flick. If you are looking to get your 2014 film log off on the right note, certainty gives this one a watch.
Take a Drink: for each piece of art.
Take a Drink: during each time a character yells violently.
Do a Shot: when Geoffrey Rush’s sex scene comes up; you do not want to be sober for that!