The Best Offer

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The Best Offer
The Best Offer.jpg
Theatrical release poster
ItalianLa migliore offerta
Directed byGiuseppe Tornatore
Written byGiuseppe Tornatore
Produced byIsabella Cocuzza
Arturo Paglia
CinematographyFabio Zamarion
Edited byMassimo Quaglia
Music byEnnio Morricone
Paco Cinematografica
Warner Bros.
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • 1 January 2013 (2013-01-01)
Running time
131 minutes
Budget$18 million[1]
Box office$20,489,700[2][3]

The Best Offer (Italian: La migliore offerta – entitled Deception in the UK) is a 2013 English-language Italian psychological thriller film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The film stars Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks, and Donald Sutherland. The music score was composed by Ennio Morricone.


The film tells a story of love and deceit, set in Europe - in the world of ultra high-end art auctions and antiques. The story revolves around Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush), an ageing, wealthy, and esteemed, but somewhat standoffish and eccentric, managing director of a preeminent auction house. Oldman is hired by a mysterious young heiress, Claire Ibbetson (Sylvia Hoeks), to auction off the large collection of art and antiques left to her by her parents. Claire always refuses to be seen in person, suffering from severe agoraphobia and never leaving her room. She decided to trust Oldman though as he suffers himself from OCD. Soon enough Virgil, a lifelong bachelor who is able to relate to her reclusiveness, understands that he has fallen in love with her.

An astute young artisan, Robert (Jim Sturgess), who has a shop repairing and restoring clocks, aids Oldman in restoring and reassembling some odd mechanical parts that he finds among Claire's belongings, which appear to be from a potentially valuable historic automaton, while also giving him advice on how to befriend her, and how to deal with his feelings towards her. Oldman's poise and prestige are counterpointed by an ongoing scam whereby his friend Billy Whistler (Donald Sutherland) helps him acquire a large private collection of master portraits worth many millions, by presenting them at auction as the work of other artists. Billy is an aspiring artist himself, but Oldman does not take Billy's work seriously.

A side narrative involves Virgil discovering a mouldy, charred piece of wood at another client's mansion. Professional restoration reveals a painting underneath which Virgil falsely states is by a 16th-century forger who, unable to reveal herself as female, simply signs paintings as "V". Virgil notes to these other clients that all forgers are irresistibly tempted to modify the original, which reveals the forger's own artistic sensibilities. At auction, the painting is sold for £90,000, but after Virgil explains to Billy he knew that it was, in fact, an original worth some £8 million, Billy buys the painting for Virgil from its original buyer for £250,000.

Oldman eventually begins a relationship with Ibbetson, compromising his work. At the peak of the relationship, Claire overcomes her fear of the outside world and Virgil lays aside his gloves. Claire goes on to live with Virgil, who trusts the fragile Claire enough to show her his secret priceless collection of female portraits. Overcome with emotion, Claire tells Virgil that no matter what may happen to the two of them, she does love him.

Virgil returns home one day to find that his entire collection and Claire are gone. In the vault is the completed automaton constructed from the mechanical parts Virgil gave to Robert, which plays a message from Robert saying there is something real in every forgery and that is why Robert will truly miss Virgil. He also discovers that a supposed portrait of Claire's mother was in fact painted by Billy and has been left to him with a telling inscription. Virgil realizes that he is the victim of an elaborate fraud conducted by Robert, Claire, and Billy, but is unable to go to the police due to the illicit means by which Virgil himself acquired the works. He also discovers that the real "Claire", owner of the villa and its contents, is a savant, crippled girl in a wheelchair who has been watching him visit the villa on numerous occasions from a café across the street in which Virgil has himself spent time; she reveals that she has hired the villa out to some film directors for this whole event to be staged, and has seen the supposedly agoraphobic, fake "Claire" come and go from the villa hundreds of times.

We (the audience) are not told explicitly who is behind the "sting" or scam, but at one prior point Claire, unaware that she is being observed by Virgil, talks to someone on the phone who she calls the "Director"; if this is Billy, a possible motive is that he too is an artist but has never received any encouragement or appreciation from Virgil, and the sting is an act of revenge on his part. An alternative suggestion by some viewers is that Billy, and possibly Robert, wish to draw Virgil out of his previous life in which he had little real contact or empathy with other humans, and the loss of his possessions may be a price he has to pay to gain the insights he has hitherto avoided.

After months of recovering from the betrayal in a mental institution, Virgil takes a trip to Prague, where he spends time sitting in a restaurant that Claire had once suggested. The restaurant is filled with clocks, perhaps a reminder of his OCD or perhaps a metaphor for his own life ticking by. He sits there waiting alone at a table wondering if Claire's statement of love was forged or a genuine sentiment she imparted on the con.


  • Geoffrey Rush as Virgil Oldman, prestigious auctioneer
  • Jim Sturgess as Robert, tinkerer and mechanical repairman
  • Sylvia Hoeks as Claire Ibbetson, reclusive heiress
  • Donald Sutherland as Billy Whistler, artist; friend of Virgil who helps him at auctions
  • Philip Jackson as Fred, caretaker of the Ibbetson mansion
  • Katie McGovern as art expert
  • Dermot Crowley as Lambert (Virgil's main assistant)
  • Liya Kebede as Sarah, Robert's girlfriend
  • Maximilian Dirr as Virgil's Assistant
  • Laurence Belgrave as Virgil's Assistant
  • Sean Buchanan as Virgil's Assistant
  • Kiruna Stamell as Claire, woman in the bar who keeps count of things
  • Anton Alexander as Real Estate Agent
  • John Benfield as Barman
  • Miles Richardson as Steirereck Maitre
  • James Patrick Conway as Steirereck Manager
  • Brigitte Christensen as First Daughter


The film was produced by Paco Cinematografica with support from the FVG (Friuli Venezia Giulia) Film Fund. Filming began in Trieste on April 30, 2012. For Tornatore this meant a return to Trieste: it was here he shot La Sconosciuta in 2005, with Xenia Rappoport. Filming took place in a period of five to six weeks in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Vienna, Prague, and South Tyrol.[4]


Critical reception[edit]

The Best Offer received mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 55%, with an average rating of 5.84/10, based on reviews from 33 critics.[5] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 49 (out of 100), based on reviews from 17 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[6] Andrew Pulver of The Guardian rated it 2/5 stars and called it "stiff" and "convoluted".[7] Philippa Hawker of The Age rated it 3/5 stars and called it "handsome, yet austere".[8] Sandra Hall of the Brisbane Times rated it 4/5 stars and praised Geoffrey Rush's acting.[9] Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter called it "astutely written".[10] Variety called the film "superficial" and "clichéd", but predicted box office success.[1]

Box office[edit]

On the Italian opening weekend, the film grossed $2,496,402 from 373 theaters and debuted at number 2 on the box office chart, behind Us in the U.S.. It grossed $12,021,662 domestically and $8,468,038 overseas for a worldwide gross of $20,489,700.[2][3]


Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
58th David di Donatello Awards[11] Best Film Giuseppe Tornatore Won
Best Director Giuseppe Tornatore Won
Best Script Giuseppe Tornatore Nominated
Best Producer Isabella Cocuzza and Arturo Paglia Nominated
Best Cinematography Fabio Zamarion Nominated
Best Sets and Decorations Maurizio Sabatini and Raffaella Giovannetti Won
Best Costumes Maurizio Millenotti Won
Best Makeup Luigi Rocchetti Nominated
Best Hairstyling Stefano Ceccarelli Nominated
Best Editing Massimo Quaglia Nominated
Best Sound Gilberto Martinelli Nominated
Best Score Ennio Morricone Won
Youngs' David Giuseppe Tornatore Won
67th Silver Ribbon Awards[12] Best Director Giuseppe Tornatore Won
Best Producer Isabella Cocuzza and Arturo Paglia Won
Best Screenplay Giuseppe Tornatore Nominated
Best Cinematography Fabio Zamarion Nominated
Best Scenography Maurizio Sabatini and Raffaella Giovannetti Won
Best Costumes Maurizio Millenotti Won
Best Editor Massimo Quaglia Won
Best Sound Gilberto Martinelli Nominated
Best Score Ennio Morricone Won
53rd Italian Golden Globe[13] Best Cinematography Fabio Zamarion Nominated
Best Music Ennio Morricone Nominated
26th European Film Awards Best Film Giuseppe Tornatore Nominated
Best Director Giuseppe Tornatore Nominated
Best Screenwriter Giuseppe Tornatore Nominated
Best Composer Ennio Morricone Won
People's Choice Award Giuseppe Tornatore Nominated


  1. ^ a b "Review: "The Best Offer"". Variety. 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  2. ^ a b "La Migliore Offerta (The Best Offer)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
  3. ^ a b "La Migliore Offerta (The Best Offer)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
  4. ^ Scarpa, Vittoria (2012-04-05). "Tornatore shoots The Best Offer in Trieste". Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  5. ^ "The Best Offer (La Migliore Offerta) (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  6. ^ "The Best Offer". Metacritic. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  7. ^ Pulver, Andrew (2013-02-13). "The Best Offer – First Look Review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  8. ^ Hawker, Philippa (2013-08-29). "The Best Offer review: Artistry in Fascination with Beauty". The Age. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  9. ^ Hall, Sandra (2013-08-29). "The Best Offer review: Perfect Frame to Display Rush's Talent". Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  10. ^ Young, Deborah (2013-01-05). "The Best Offer: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  11. ^ Hombrebueno, Pierre (2013-06-15). "Giuseppe Tornatore's The Best Offer Wins Big at the Embarassing Italian Oscars". Twitch Film. Archived from the original on 2013-09-13. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  12. ^ Lyman, Eric J. (2013-07-07). "'The Best Offer' Wins Big at Italy's Nastri d'Argento Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  13. ^ "Geoffrey Rush film sweeps Silver Ribbon awards". BBC News. 2013-07-08. Retrieved 2013-09-01.

External links[edit]