Geoffrey Rush plays Virgil Oldman, a fastidious, successful and self-serving fine art auctioneer who is soon tempted by a vast private collection and the reclusive heiress, Claire (Sylvia Hoeks) who owns keeps it in a rambling, rundown old mansion. Tensions, dramatic and sexual soon amount and the potential for deceit and double-crossing hangs heavy in the air as the collection is appraised and prepared for auction.
Much like Gambit and, to a certain extent, Trance, The Best Offer suffers from a jaundiced and prejudicial view of the art world, seeing it as absurd, campy and ultimately cringeworthy. Neither Rush, nor the one dimensional script he is given can do much to shape a character able to rise above this prejudice and small, well acted performances by Donald Sutherland and Jim Sturgess fail to help much either. What we are left with is a visually rich, but deeply superficial film experience, a modern film noir with little real drama or passion.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is, in every way, a better, bolder and more rewarding film that its predecessor. While the first film relied almost solely on the performance of Jennifer Lawrence (who is once again excellent here), the supporting cast, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci have more asked of them and deliver well. Plus, the new cast members, especially Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright and Jena Malone give this film a much richer ensemble feeling, helped enormously by Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay.
That said, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire really doesn’t stand alone as a film. You have to be familiar with the previous film’s storyline in order to make sense of and enjoy this film, which really serves as a connection between the original tale and war promises to be the rousing finale to the series.
This film was discussed on our podcast here.