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2014年9月20日 星期六

La Migliore Oferta (The Best Offer) (情迷拍賣師)

Old houses full of paintings, sculptures, period furniture, cellars, attics and bits and pieces of what appeared the rusty mechanical parts of some broken down machine; a beautiful young lady both of whose parents have died within a year and who had shut herself inside a huge old mansion with secret passages, cellars and attic since 15 after witnessing the bloody death of her boyfriend whom she first met in Night and Day, a bar-restaurant which customers dine or drink amidst jumble of noises ticking from a hundred old mechanical clocks whose parts are completely exposed on the wall and partitions right opposite the world heritage Astronomical Clock Tower in the old town Square of Prague; an orphan who has since become an aging but one of the most respected auctioneers in the world of paintings, sculptures and antique furniture and artifacts and who leads his well organized but almost automaton life who lives alone in a spacious and tastefully decorated house with a 30 feet wide wardrobe in which ties, shirt, suits and gloves are meticulously placed and who dines in the finest restaurants, drinking the finest wines and who has a huge collection of the originals of some of the most sought after paintings hidden behind his electronically moved wardrobe, fitted with remote controlled digital lock. The auctioneer has everything a man of culture could possibly need except love. Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore has woven all these elements into a thriller with surprises after surprises that piques your curiosity as the plot unfolds so that you have to hold your breath until the very end. This thriller of sunset romance called La Migliore Oferta (The Best Offer) (情迷拍賣師) (2013) ends with an old man facing his empty vault and then dining alone reminiscing all that happened in the meantime, his face as marked with the absence of any emotions as we find him at the beginning of the film. How did all that happen?


It all started with the auctioneer receiving a telelphone call from what appeared a troubled and desperate lady Claire Ibbetson (Sylvia Hoeks) who beg him to do an evaluation because she heard from her father that if she were to decide to sell off the family's heritage in her house, she must asked for the valuation of the relevant items by one Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush), the protagonist. Step by step, Rush was drawn into her life, and we with him until he fell in love with her. And when he took the bait, he lost his entire collection which he had carefully garnered all his life. But she was not able to do so without the assistance of Billy Whistler (Donald Sutherland) one of his most trusted accomplices in helping to raise the bid at auctions and Robert,(Jim Sturgess) a genius in mechanical and all kinds of engineering devices and removing dirt and grime off antique items without damaging them and who served also as Virgil's consultant on how to win a lady's heart and an old dodgy servant who walked with a limp and who told that although he had been working there for years, he had never seen his employer and that he just did what he was told to do by messages relayed to him.

I'm not going to spoil the joy of discovery of those who have not seen the film by disclosing the details what exactly happened as the film unfolded.  But I'd say that it's a perfectly well thought out scam which leaves the protagonist without any defence or resistance at all. His only consolation is that though the lonely orphan who can't stand holding touching any objects with his naked hands lost the fortune of a life time,he at least had tasted the smooth skin of a young lady and the tremors of love at least once, before resuming his machine like life, probably the way he did since his teenage. I leave the cinema with the thought that there are no enemies more dangerous than one's emotions and one's most trusted "friends", especially when one has in his possession a tempting fortune.

The script by the director is really ingenious and the acting by Geoffrey Rush, Donald Sutherland and Sylvia Hoek were uniformly excellently. So are the set designs and music. The film won a huge basket of awards, including Best Production Design at the Bari International Film Festival 2013, Giuseppe Tornatore won David di Donatello Awards 2013 as the Best film and Ennio Morricone won the Best Music award.