Movie Assessment: ‘The Greatest Offer,’ From Giuseppe Tornatore

January 1st, 2014

Stefano Schirato/IFC Movies

Geoffrey Rush, seated, is an art and antiques expert and auctioneer in the thriller “The Ideal Offer you.”

It does not get an expert’s eye to see that Virgil Oldman, the supercilious auctioneer played by Geoffrey Hurry in Giuseppe Tornatore’s creaky art thriller “The Very best Offer” (“La Migliore Offerta”), is riding for a drop. And slide he does, for the unfamiliar lady — to borrow the title of one more Tornatore movie — who would like to sell paintings and other treasures from the villa she inherited. That the mysterious seller insists on communicating by mobile phone or via closed doorways probably increases her charm to a man who makes a lot of his living hunting at issues.

Virgil and this female, Claire, circle each other warily — she goes by Ms. Ibbetson at very first — in a dance that’s partly about getting the higher hand and partly about their respective weird habits. Virgil is the variety of aesthete motion picture character whose cold formality goes hand in glove (he truly wears gloves) with a raging concern of intimacy. He’s an art collector, aided by a swindle that he operates with a raggedy-haired painter buddy, Billy (Donald Sutherland, politely pitching in). From this premise, one particular might ponder what scrumptious conspiratorial excesses might have transpired in other palms for occasion, in the art-centered secret “Trance,” final spring, Danny Boyle ambitiously disassembled his mad story as quick as he advised it.

Right here the excesses occur courtesy of Mr. Tornatore (“Cinema Paradiso”), the Italian filmmaker who at times would seem to produce his handsome, vintage 1990s artwork-house fare by the garden. His most recent, which takes area in a generic European town, seems to be set to introduce a collision of pathologies, or at minimum some overwrought dueling like his Depardieu-Polanski face-off, “A Pure Formality” (1995). But “The Best Offer” settles in for a boring courtship top to a bad stop. Including a superfluous drone of intrigue, Virgil keeps locating previous gears and doodads at the villa, and he requires them to a technological-whiz pal (Jim Sturgess) who also dishes out intimate suggestions.

Individuals metallic bits gradually get shape as an antique automaton that gives, in its laborious design and inevitable condition, an unfortunate metaphor for the movie. Mr. Hurry, at any time recreation to make a pitch, does provide nerve to his mercurial character, tempering a dude who’s typically just a jerk, and his hefty attributes (which rival Kevin Spacey’s in shifting among masklike and animated) receive central attention from the cinematographer Fabio Zamarion’s digital camera. But Mr. Rush can not fly significantly on Mr. Tornatore’s dialogue and workmanlike plotting, and Sylvia Hoeks, as Claire, does not bring a corresponding vitality.

At one level, Virgil places down Billy by airily declaring that his operate lacks the interior thriller of accurate art. The film consists of its share of imagery from well-known paintings whose names roll by in the credits, but the director stages his serviceable gothic thriller premise with the elegance of an auction.

The Best Offer you

Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Prepared and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore director of photography, Fabio Zamarion edited by Massimo Quaglia tunes by Ennio Morricone generation design by Maurizio Sabatini costumes by Maurizio Millenotti produced by Paco Cinematografica/Isabella Cocuzza and Arturo Paglia unveiled by IFC Movies. At the IFC Middle, 323 Avenue of the Americas, at 3rd Road, Greenwich Village. Managing time: 2 several hours 11 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Geoffrey Rush (Virgil Oldman), Jim Sturgess (Robert), Sylvia Hoeks (Claire Ibbetson) and Donald Sutherland (Billy).

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