(Italy - 2013/US release: 2014)
Written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Donald Sutherland, Sylvia Hoeks, Philip Jackson, Dermot Crowley, Kiruna Stammel, Liya Kebede. (R, 131 mins)
There's a strong Hitchcockian influence on the first half of the Best Film winner at the 2013 David di Donatello Awards, the Italian equivalent of the Oscar. The latest film from CINEMA PARADISO director Giuseppe Tornatore is equal parts psychological thriller and sometimes corny love story, the pieces of the puzzle eventually fitting if you heed the advice of one character who states "If you're patient, everything falls into place." In one of his best performances, Geoffrey Rush is Virgil Oldman, an abrasive, erudite auctioneer and art appraiser who lives in such a bubble that he even has his own dinnerware (complete with his own "V.O." crest on the glassware) set aside for him at the posh restaurants he frequents. A germphobe, Virgil resists all human contact that isn't necessary, and only interacts with his staff on a need-to basis. He's been running a scam for years with his accomplice Billy (Donald Sutherland), a failed artist who places the winning bids on the high-quality forgeries that Virgil auctions off at events--their scam is that the paintings are the real deal and Virgil tells no one, paying Billy to bid on the priceless art at much cheaper forgery prices for Virgil to acquire and horde in a secret room in his house. Soon, Virgil is contacted by Claire Ibbitsen (Sylvia Hoeks), a 27-year-old agoraphobic heiress and shut-in who hasn't left her bedroom in 12 years. Her parents died a year earlier and the family villa has fallen into a dilapidated state. Through a series of phone calls that grow increasingly testy due to Virgil's impatience and snobbery, Claire reveals that she wants her parents' extensive art and furniture collection to be catalogued, appraised, and sold at auction.