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Film / The Best Offer

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The Best Offer (Italian: La migliore offerta) is a 2013 Italian romantic mystery film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The film stars Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks, and Donald Sutherland, and the music score is composed by Ennio Morricone.

Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush) is a solitary, cultured man whose reluctance to engage with others, especially women, is matched only by the dogged obsessiveness with which he practices his profession as a high-end antiques auctioneer and valuer at the top of his career. One day Virgil receives a phone call from a mysterious young heiress, Claire (Sylvia Hoeks), who asks him to evaluate her deceased family's works of art, housed in a large villa. It will be the beginning of a complex and turbulent - but physically distant - relationship that will change his life forever.

This film provides examples of:

  • The Bad Guy Wins: Well, then again Virgil wasn't such a good guy to begin with.
  • Bookcase Passage: Virgil's wardrobe is the entrance to his secret cabinet.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Tracking Device Virgil finds in his car. A similar device was briefly introduced earlier at Robert's shop.
  • The Chessmaster: Billy is the supposed mastermind behind the elaborate scam.
  • City with No Name: The name of the city is never revealed. Apparently, the director wanted to give the idea of a generic, nameless Central European city.
  • Clock Punk: The Night & Day restaurant is full of clockwork.
  • Clockwork Creature: The Automaton.
  • The Con: The elaborate coup involved four major players (Billy, Claire, Robert and Fred) as well as supporting members moving furniture around.
  • Costume-Test Montage: Virgil intends to buy a dress for Claire. Cue the montage in which models try different dresses for him.
  • Despair Event Horizon: If a character with a Friendless Background finally finds a person who appears to believe in him, and then that person turns out to be a False Friend, it's almost certain that the character will then have crossed the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Dramatic Drop: Virgil dropping Billy's painting when he sees his chamber completely cleared.
  • Everybody Lives: Body count = 0.
  • Expospeak: The way Robert is introduced. During their first scene together, Virgil talks about Robert's history and skills, so the audience knows what a badass technician Robert is.
  • Face Your Fears: Invoked. Claire seemingly overcomes her fear of the outside when she decides to rescue Virgil after he has been beaten badly by some punks. Later we learn that this was all staged to draw Virgil deeper into the relationship with Claire.
  • False Friend: Billy, Virgil's long-term friend and partner-in-crime. Also Robert and Claire.
  • Femme Fatale: Claire, a charismatic actress.
  • Foreshadowing: At least twice in the movie the parallels between forging art and emotions are discussed. If love hadn't made him blind, Virgil may have been able to pick up on this clue.
  • Friendless Background: Virgil is a loner ... and a virgin.
  • Get Out!: Claire uses this stockphrase at least once during her hot-cold-relationship with Virgil at the villa.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The protagonist is a flawed Jerk with a Heart of Gold who has illegally acquired a secret private collection of master paintings. The caper party is just doing the same onto him.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Virgil, being the gentleman he is, performs a hand kiss to Claire before their romantic dinner.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Virgil delivers two grocery bags to Claire. We see a baguette sticking out from one of them.
  • Jerkass: Virgil is a self-centered, racist character with little concern for people around him. He gets better.
  • Karma Houdini: Billy, Claire and Robert seemingly get away with their coup.
  • Ludicrous Precision: Little Claire lists Virgil in detail what happened across the street, e.g. that the actress Claire left the villa 231 times.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Welcome to the real world, Virgil.
  • MacGuffin: The Automaton. At first the plot seems to revolve around the mystery of the Clockwork Creature, but as we later learn, the machine is a fake and the puzzle pieces were only meant to keep Virgil interested in the case long enough for him to bond with Claire.
  • May–December Romance: Invoked. While Virgil's feelings for Claire are genuine, she only faked hers as part of the plan.
  • Mr. Exposition: Little Claire and her Photographic Memory help Virgil (and the audience) to get a better picture of what went on in preparation for the coup.
  • Nerd Hoard: The protagonist has a Secret Room in his apartment filled with priceless paintings of women. He often just sits there for hours, admiring these works of art. All paintings get stolen in a heist though.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Claire points out to Virgil that they are not so different as they both have in one way or another isolated themselves from the outside world. "Not so different" actually serves as Foreshadowing more than anything.
  • One-Person Birthday Party: Virgil is seen all by himself on his birthday at the restaurant.
  • One-Woman Wail: The piece of music playing over Virgil having crossed the Despair Event Horizon and standing helplessly in front of the Police station.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Subverted. When Claire has an accident behind the door, Virgil tries to push the door open, first with his boot and then with his shoulder. He fails miserably.
  • Parental Abandonment: Virgil mentions that he lost his parents as a young boy and was brought up in an orphanage which might explain his strange behavior towards other people.
  • Photographic Memory: The real Claire from the cafe has this skill.
  • Plot Parallel: Virgil's job as an antiques dealer is to tell a forgery from an original. This parallels the main story which is about him failing to see the forgery in Claire's feelings for him.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Little Claire knew of all the things going on across the street but Virgil never cared to engage in conversation with her when visiting the café.
  • Second-Act Breakup: Invoked. After Virgil and Claire have bonded, she goes missing for no apparent reason which drives Virgil crazy. It turns out to be a ploy to intensify the relationship.
  • Secret Room: Virgil has a secret room in his house whose walls are filled with precious paintings he acquired over his lifetime. He often goes there just to enjoy the sight. The room is hidden behind a wardrobe and needs a keycode to enter. Claire later discovers the secret room and steals all the paintings.
  • Sensei for Scoundrels: When it comes to love and romance, Virgil is a first-grader. Robert gives him advice on how to deal with Claire.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Claire has traits of this due to her phobia. Somehow Virgil seems to be attracted to it.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Virgil gets scammed and loses all the art works that he scammed from other people.
  • Title Drop: Virgil used the phrase "The best offer" as a cue for Billy to join in the bidding.
  • Thunder Equals Downpour: At one point when Virgil is standing in front of the villa, we hear thunder rolling and immediately rain sets in.
  • Token Minority: Sarah. Then again, the City with No Name is supposed to be located in central Europe.
  • Tracking Device: One is planted in Virgil's car so the caper party knew when he was coming around.
  • Tsundere: Claire. Her attitude towards Virgil goes from hot to cold and back several times.
  • Twist Ending
  • Zip Me Up: Claire needs help with the zipper of her new dress and Virgil is more than willing to help.