The Netflix Pick is turning out to be a great way to find some great movies that otherwise would keep gathering digital dust. This week’s pick is The Best Offer starring the immensely talented Geoffrey Rush.
Tired of hearing your friends say they’ve watched everything on Netflix? Are you finding yourself saying that as well? Maybe the argument of people too cheap to shell out the 8 dollars are saying ‘there used to be good stuff, but it’s all crap now.’ Maybe you find yourself spending more time scrolling than watching. Well I plan to put those idiotic statements and bad behavior to rest. On a week to week basis I will give a solid recommendation or two on what you can sign on, turn on, and enjoy. I’ll try to stay away from the massive titles that everyone knows since those have been covered to exhaustion everywhere else. I’m looking for the hidden gems. The indies, the big name stars in direct to streaming endeavors that are well crafted and creative but wouldn’t gross the 300 million needed to justify a theatrical wide release.
Written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, a filmmaker who may not be a huge name in America but has quite the resume going, The Best Offer is a well crafted and tense movie where the next move, the next play, the next turn is never seen coming. Expertly acted and filled with foreshadowing the audience can really only appreciate in hindsight.
Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush) is a very refined gentleman and an expert auctioneer. His knowledge is unparalleled by anyone in his field. This leaves him with a life full of art, money, and a certain level of fame, but not much in the way of human companionship. Virgil gets a mysterious phone call from Claire Ibbetson (Sylvia Hoeks), a quirky introvert with an entire estate worth of auction worthy pieces. She employs Virgil to catalog and sell her family’s collection but won’t meet him face to face. Confiding in his young friend, Robert (Jim Sturgess), Virgil and Claire both get over their inability to socialize and start to connect with one another.
The parallels in character development are so subtly and expertly done the relationship between Virgil and Claire is enough to carry the movie without the script being so full of twists and strong story moments. Claire is a prisoner in her own life because of agoraphobia. Virgil is something of a prisoner in his life despite being a world traveler and having a home as big as a hotel. Their social inabilities are enough for their very different lives to be very much the same. Because of their issues the ‘getting to know you’ period takes a long time. Their interactions are emotional roller coasters with climbs, drops, plummets, and neck breaking turns in every scene the two share. The only down side to their relationship is the film has one or two too many blow ups between these characters, drawing out the run time.
Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland pick up the story as supporting characters who are the only real relationships Virgil is capable of keeping. The patience the two have for Virgil is partly through friendship but also partly through what they have to gain from knowing the man. Robert is Virgil’s go to guy for fixing anything. The two start working on a mechanical man from the 18th century together and Robert even refuses payment just in the interest of the project. As the two bond Virgil turns to Robert for life advice. Sutherland’s character, Billy Whistler is the antithesis of Robert; more parallels in storytelling. Billy and Virgil have something of a scam going at the auctions Virgil runs. Billy steps in to get Virgil pieces on the cheap or drive up prices. If Robert is Virgil’s connection to a new social life Billy is Virgil’s connection to the world of money and seclusion.
What sounds like a man meets woman love story is so much more. The typical plots points and dance of the love story are nowhere to be found here. The relationship between the two main characters is far from normal, even movie normal. On the surface the rest of The Best Offer sounds like a typical three act structure movie as well. While the movie does follow the typical structure, of course, the changes are always a surprise. The best part about all the growth and surprises is that the characters never act against their established personalities.
The Best Offer is a great movie laying low in the endless catalog of streaming options on Netflix. The acting is all a-list and the tone will keep you on the edge of your couch cushion. The run time gets a little lengthy but since you’ll be streaming this fine film you’ll be able to press pause and grab a snack.