“There is always something authentic concealed in every forgery,” is the tagline for this intriguing drama about artistic beauty and emotional deceit.
Geoffrey Rush stars as an eccentric art auctioneer called Oldman who is called to the villa of a mysterious young heiress (Sylvia Hoeks) who wants him to value her late parents’ art collection.
Guiseppe Tornatore, best known for writing and directing Cinema Paradiso, steps away from his familiar Sicilian territory and takes us into the moneyed world of north European art collecting.
Claiming to “admire but fear women,” Oldman has never had a relationship in his life. Until, that is, he meets Hoeks.
He is tantalised by his encounter with the woman who hides behind a screen due to a mysterious illness.
As she plays with the idea of selling off her heirlooms, he becomes obsessed with seeing her.
Before he visits his late blooming amour, he spends some time in his secret vault of great female portraits, where he admires the many beauties painted by old masters.
Rush’s character is running something of a scam by underselling valuable paintings to his scoundrel of an art dealer friend played by Donald Sutherland.
Meantime, he manages to filch pieces of an 18th century automaton from Sylvia’s cellar, which he has a young mechanical genius (Jim Sturgess) gradually reconstruct.
This is a slow moving but beautifully constructed drama lifted by a hugely sympathetic portrayal from Rush and the supporting cast of Sutherland and Sturgess.
Review by Joe Gill