Movie Review: The Best Offer

Movie Review: The Best Offer

Reality of love given a rare voice

By Mark HadleyWednesday 4 Sep 2013MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

A surprising touch of reality in The Best Offer


Do you have one of those actors who you would go to see in anything? Maybe you’re a Matt Damon fan, or how about Meryl Streep? I’m sure there’s probably a couple of names that will always send you to the box office. For me, Geoffrey Rush does the trick. You just know that when the lights go down you’re going to be treated to a character who captures your mind as well as your eye. Rush certainly doesn’t disappoint in The Best Offer, though what did come as a surprise was the Bible story it ended up reflecting.

The Best Offer centres on the life of eccentric art valuer and auctioneer Virgil Oldman, brought to life by Rush. A walking compendium of all that is exquisite and antique, Oldman sizes up the value of paintings, sculptures and furniture in a single glance. His advice is so valued he can afford to be incredibly difficult to please. But one day his attention is snared by a young woman seeking to sell her father’s antique collection simply because she won’t see him. Sylvia Hoeks plays Claire, a beautiful woman suffering from extreme agoraphobia – she won’t emerge from her dilapidated rooms until everyone has left. Virgil and Claire strike up a relationship through a chink in her door, until Oldman becomes convinced that she is the most valuable thing he has ever discovered. But is Claire’s love the best offer he can hope for?

The Best Offer isn’t a Hollywood love story but something that runs much closer to reality. Virgil isn’t your classic diamond in the rough. He’s been manipulating his position as an auctioneer to amass a vast private collection of valuable paintings – each one a portrait of a beautiful woman. And inconsistencies in Claire’s own story raise the concern that his budding relationship might be a fake. His long-time partner in crime, Billy (Donald Sutherland) warns him the lessons he’s learned in the art world are just as valuable in the outside world:

Billy: “Human emotions are like works of art. They can be forged. They seem just like the original – but they are a forgery.”

Virgil: “Forgery? “

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Billy: “Everything can be faked, Virgil: joy, pain, hate, illness, recovery… even love. “

The film builds to a climax where Virgil, the man with the master eye, must decide whether he has been taken in or shown a true vision. It also slowly transforms itself into a portrait of Jesus’ famous pearl merchant: 

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  

Jesus’ point is that when someone comes close to the Kingdom of Heaven and sees it for what it is, they realise it is worth everything they could give for it. Likewise, Virgil finds himself in a situation where the very things he’s spent his life valuing up till then now seem worthless in comparison to the love he’s discovered. He will let them all fall from his hands for just the chance of obtaining it. As the curtain comes down the viewer is left to decide whether Virgil made a good bargain, and many might ask the same looking at the life of the average Christian. Gaining the Kingdom of Heaven means letting go of all claims to wealth and fame, even love and safety. But you only have to ask a believer if it was worth the exchange. The foretaste of its joy, even in this dark world, is more than enough to prove it is no forgery. 

Rating: M
Distributor: Transmission Films
Release Date: August 29