There have been better Oscar winners in the foreign-language-film category, but few as beloved as Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso (1988). In the quarter-century since he made that heartwarmer, Tornatore has followed with a hodgepodge of projects, many of them touched with a sentimental or precious spirit—a middling record, which is why it’s intriguing to see him turn to a genre picture. Yes, The Best Offer is a character study, but it also has a built-in suspense mechanism that leads the writer/director away from his more pretentious tendencies.
Plus, any movie that puts Geoffrey Rush in the central role deserves attention. Rush plays the feared auction-house owner and connoisseur Virgil Oldman, who glides through the high-art universe, gavel in hand.