Virgil Oldman (played by Geoffrey Rush) is infatuated with beautiful things. He’s made his living working with beautiful things – antique furniture, sculpture, fine arts and furnishings – in his very successful top quality valuation and auction business. He is drawn to the most exquisite and can’t help himself – his obsessive need to add to his collection overtakes all other thoughts and he “must have” the best pieces. He partners with Billy Whistler (by Donald Sutherland) who poses as a buyer at his auctions, to secure the best prices for the most exquisite and sought-after pieces for himself. This works well and his collection is extensive. One day, Virgil is asked to value the estate of a recently deceased and wealthy town resident, Mr Ibbetson, and he begins an interaction with the administrator of the estate, daughter Claire (by Sylvia Hoeks). As he goes through the valuation process he is drawn to this enigmatic woman and discovers feelings for her he’s never had before. He seeks advice from Robert (by Jim Sturgess) a business contact who has great success with women. Virgil, slowly develops the courage to try to get closer to Claire. Things progress well until Virgil is prepared to give up everything for this great love of his life. But can everything really be as perfect as it seems … ?
This thriller, originally called “La migliore offerta” and distributed as “Deception” in some countries, is marvellous. As the knowledgeable but also acutely naive Virgil, Geoffrey Rush is excellent. Through this drama, Virgil experiences a range of emotions and the audience feels them too, through Rush’s marvellous performance. Other performances are strong too – Sylvia Hoeks is well cast as the fascinating and beautiful Claire, there is no doubt she would capture even the most frozen of hearts. As the wily Billy, Donald Sutherland fits the bill perfectly – his look and the twinkle in his eye is just what’s required for this role – you never really know when he’s being honest with you. Then there’s Robert, the young womaniser and genius mechanic – a perfect business associate and friend for Virgil. There are other marvellous characters who contribute to the rich tapestry of this story also – the house custodian, Fred, by Philip Jackson, is straight out of a Quasimodo story – and the girl in the cafe, by Kiruna Stamell, is very well matched here – the kind of character David Lynch would use too. The whole ensemble is great – it’s a compelling, great movie. It won several international awards of recognition, and there’s no wonder about that. Well done, Guisseppe Tornatore, for both the story itself and the movie.
Made in 2013. Directed by Guisseppe Tornatore.