Movie review: Con-game plot gets too serious in ‘Best Offer’
Published: February 14, 2014 10:58AM
Updated: February 19, 2014 04:49PM
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(| Courtesy IFC Films) Art auctioneer Virgil (Geoffrey Rush, center) confers will Billy (Donald Sutherland, right), a painter who is also Virgil's partner in crime, in a scene from the thriller "The Best Offer."

Geoffrey Rush gives a wonderfully modulated performance in “The Best Offer,” a movie that could use some of that modulation.

Rush plays Virgil Oldman, a fastidious art dealer who oversees massive estate auctions and skims the best portraits for himself, using his pal Billy (Donald Sutherland) as his proxy. Oldman (and, yes, the name’s deliberate) takes as a client a beautiful agoraphobe, Claire (the Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks), seeking to sell her family’s antiques. He becomes fascinated with some mechanical parts he finds in Claire’s villa, parts his tinkerer friend Robert (Jim Sturgess) transforms into a rare automaton. Meanwhile, Virgil and Claire draw each other out of their shells, and a romance blossoms. But is the affair, like the art Oldman handles, real or a forgery? Writer-director Giuseppe Tornatore (“Cinema Paradiso”) aims for a tricky con-game thriller, but his operatic seriousness squelches the fun and keeps the viewer from buying into the clockwork plotting. Only Rush, who never gives up the game, seems to be having any fun.

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‘The Best Offer’

Opens today at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated R for some sexuality and graphic nudity; 126 minutes.