Deception, illusion, passion: analysis of the film The Best Offer (2013): the meaning of the film & ending, plot analysis, similar movies.
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Crime
Year of production: 2012
Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore
Actors: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks, Donald Sutherland
tagline: “A master of possession. A crime of obsession”
Giuseppe Tornatore is a master of psychological cinema. In his paintings, almost every one of which is famous for its unexpected ending, human nature is carefully examined. Trying to understand the meaning of the film “The Best Offer” (La migliore offerta), some viewers assume that this is a movie about unusual love and piercing loneliness. However, to no lesser extent, this excellent European thriller with elements of art noir tells about the role of art in our lives. Is it worth it to exchange a real, full life for it? ..
What is the movie about
Brief description of the content of the film “The Best Offer”. The protagonist of the picture, the manager of the famous auction house Virgil Oldman, loves art more than anything else. He is imposing, rich and respected in society. But he himself eschews people and sometimes behaves eccentrically – in particular, he allows tactile contacts only when wearing gloves.
Geoffrey Rush played the lead role of Virgil Oldman. Frame from the film.
One day, he receives a call from a young woman named Claire. A girl, the heiress of a noble family, hires Oldman to help her auction off art objects that she inherited along with a decent fortune and a villa that needs restoration.
Suffering from severe agoraphobia, Claire leads a reclusive life and does not personally accept anyone. After several visits to the villa, Oldman realizes that love has burst into his life …
Oldman has a friend, Robert, who is a talented master mechanic. When visiting the villa for the first time, the protagonist discovers an ancient automaton that imitates a person. The android somehow fascinates him, and he brings it piece by piece to the young man. He tells Virgil that there are many 18th century rarities in Claire’s collection and gives him some advice on how to get in touch with the client.
Virgil also has another friend, the artist Billy Whistler. He helps the manager collect a collection of masterpieces and present real works of art at auction as insignificant fakes. That is, genuine works of art, presented exclusively in the form of female portraits by eminent artists, remain with Oldman. Virgil treats Billy, who once gave him a portrait of a beautiful woman, rather consumeristically and does not take his creative ambitions seriously …
With Robert’s advice, the elderly Oldman mends a relationship with Claire, who strikes him as remarkably similar to the beauty in Billy’s portrait. Thanks to his care, she slowly gets rid of the phobia. She accepts his love and reciprocates it. Once, in a fit of sincerity, the girl suddenly tells him that she will always love him.
He is completely given to feelings. He trusts his beloved so much that he shows her his collection of masterpieces and decides to refuse to hold auctions. Late love changes him: always cynical and aloof, Oldman becomes romantic and surprisingly fragile…
Ending explanation The Best Offer
Toward the end of the film, the protagonist holds the last auction of his career, returns home to find that his entire collection has disappeared. Only Billy’s portrait of a woman remains. Claire isn’t home either…
He finds the same machine that imitates a person. The android “transmits” to him a rather cynical audio message from Robert, and he finally realizes that he has become a victim of scammers.
The author of the scam, most likely, was Billy, and its meaning was revenge. After all, the artist helped Oldman collect a collection for many years, but he did not put him in the penny, considered him a hired worker and called mediocrity. By stealing the stolen masterpieces and leaving instead only a painting of his own brush, Billy was able to avenge the humiliation he had endured. It was probably he who hired Claire and Robert, came up with a strategy and calculated tactics. After all, he knew exactly how to “catch” Oldman …
Virgil understands all of this – as well as the fact that Claire, whom he fell in love with, most likely has a different name. He does not dare to report to the police, since his entire collection was collected illegally. In addition, he realizes that he is still too in love with the scammer.
After all that happened, Oldman falls into a severe depression and goes to a psychiatric clinic for treatment. After spending a few months there, he leaves for Prague and comes to a restaurant that “Claire” once told him about. The restaurant where Oldman is located looks rather strange. It is decorated with clocks and gears, and its visitors are exclusively couples in love. Lonely and quietly, an elderly man sits at a table and his thoughts constantly revolve around one thing – did “Claire” love him? ..
The ending has at least two interpretations. According to one of them, there is a hidden meaning here. Oldman (by the way, he has a “speaking surname”: in literal translation from English it means “old man”) it is no coincidence that he is in a restaurant with such a strange interior. The clock and gears symbolize the time that the main character, a typical “man in a case”, has wasted. His life took on meaning only with the advent of Claire, who turned out to be the same phantom as the women he idealized in the paintings.
The role of Claire was played by Sylvia Hooks. Frame from the film.
In their analysis of The Best Offer, viewers offer a different, much darker explanation for the ending. It is believed that there was no restaurant in Prague, and Oldman continues to be in the hospital. There, he is probably being treated with a machine whose rotation resembles a clockwork. The cafe setting in Prague seems downright surreal, and one can tentatively conclude that Virgil’s mind is wandering in an imaginary world.
To summarize, we can offer the following explanation for the ending of the film “The Best Offer”: the restaurant is an allusion to the secret room in Oldman’s house, in which his collection lived. Now his diseased mind has created a new “secret room” where he can feel safe and imagine his reunion with “Claire”.
The meaning of the film The Best Offer
To understand the essence of the film “The Best Offer”, you need to pay attention to the personality of the protagonist. He is a typical “man in a case”, however, there is something in him from the hero of “Lolita”. This is a romantic esthete. He is smartly dressed and behaves very politely and coldly to others. He has a couple of friends, no family, and he, being a convinced bachelor, lives in splendid isolation. The only thing he has a passion for is art.
He has a whole collection of portraits of beautiful women. And collected illegally. Stealing masterpieces, he creates his Big Secret and hides it. Only he can admire these pictures! Thus, he seems to be protected from life, does not participate in it, and as if says to society: “So what if you have families and friends! But I have the best canvases!” However, under the mask of arrogance hides a very vulnerable and infinitely lonely person who feels the need to communicate with people – and in love.
There are no women in Oldman’s life – no sisters, no married girlfriends, no former lovers. Admiring the beauties of past years, he seems to transfer all his romanticization to the female image. A woman in his understanding is something sublime, delightful. She will never interfere with him and demand attention … Yes, the woman in the picture is an ideal partner. Oldman has a lot of them. Looking at them, he dreams, imagines, fantasizes and plunges into a completely fictional world.
Jim Sturgess played the role of Robert. Frame from the film.
However, Virgil soon falls in love with a real woman. Claire is afraid of contact with the world and does not want to leave the house. That is, in fact, he falls in love with his reflection. He simply could not help but fall in love with her, because he not only saw his own reflection in her, but also transferred his own thirst for love and attention to her. Upon meeting Claire, he becomes a caring, protective figure. By helping her out of her phobia, he is helping himself at the same time. But as it turned out, she didn’t need help…
The Best Offer movie starts with Virgil’s birthday and ends with a scene in a surreal restaurant. The clock symbolizes the ruthless course of time, and bustling people seem to set off its loneliness. He, on the other hand, seems to be frozen and seems completely absorbed in the idea of meeting Claire, whom he continues to love.
Why couldn’t he forget her? The fact is that when a relationship is interrupted at the very beginning, at the stage of strong love, this can inflict a very deep wound on a person. Oldman was separated from “Claire” at the peak of his happiness, followed by a sharp decline in unhappiness. It hurts, the wound bleeds – he just can’t stop thinking about the girl.
There is a second – main – reason that he (in fact, or only in his imagination) sits in a cafe and waits for “Claire”. He does it out of fear of death. Oldman was a man in a case and thought he was protected from the world. When he opened up and opened his heart, he was hit in the most painful place. Now he has nothing else in his life. As long as he loves the girl who betrayed him, he lives.
“The Best Offer” is a metaphor film about human life. Very often we are chasing illusions, but at the same time we find ourselves overboard in real life. Sometimes we find ourselves some object and passionately romanticize it. We live in an illusion, and then we suddenly realize that we have never truly lived.
The most valuable thing we have is life itself, our energy and time, which constantly slips away and flows away. If we spend our lives in illusion, then one day, like Virgil Oldman, we may find ourselves in emptiness, cold and loneliness.
Frame from the film.
Here are a few more pictures that are similar in meaning to “The Best Offer”:
- “Trans” (UK, France, 2013). Simon, auction house employee. He is the only one who knows where the priceless painting is located, which is very necessary for a gang of robbers;
- “Side effect” (USA, 2013). Emily suffers from severe depression. The antidepressants prescribed by the doctor do not help, and she takes the medicine recommended by her colleague at her own peril and risk;
- “Great Scam” (USA, UK, 2003). Fraudster Roy has a daughter. Knowing perfectly well what her father does, one day the girl asks him to teach her this “craft”.