DRAMA; 2hr 4min
STARRING: Geoffrey Rush, Sylvia Hoeks
Addicted to art: Rush
Collectors are generally a possessed species, but art and antiques connoisseur-slash-auctioneer Virgil Oldman (the endlessly watchable Rush) is in a class all his own. Virgil reveres and fears feminine beauty in equal measure, displaying his vast collection of portraits in the same solitary, immaculate splendour with which he insulates himself. His every day-to-day detail is rigorously controlled until — and if ever there were a man in need of an “until,” Virgil Oldman is that man — he encounters a woman even more phobic than he is.
Claire Ibbetson (Hoeks) is a terrified, waifish recluse who hasn’t left her glorious, crumbling villa in 12 years. Her dealings with Virgil on the inventory and sale of the contents of the house are at first by phone and through the closed door of her bedroom suite. Initially irritated, eventually intrigued and ultimately captivated, Virgil is transformed.
The unexpected can also be the most involving, and Virgil’s awakening, knowingly detailed by writer-director Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso), teems with exploratory arcs. A cerebral infatuation sheathed in mystery, with the hairpin turns of a thriller, makes a rich and contradictory brew, complete with a feast of hidden depths.