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 «This is the simple, touching tale of a solitary, cultured man, no longer young, whose reluctance to engage with others is matched only by the dogged obsessiveness with which he practices his profession of art expert and auctioneer. Asked to handle the valuation and sale of a mysterious woman’s priceless heirlooms, the antiques dealer finds himself enveloped by a passion that will transform his grey existence forever.”

The film tells an unusual love story set in Europe (Trieste, Bolzano, Fidenza, Rome, Milan, Merano, Vienna, Prague) in the world of high-end art auctions and antiques. The story revolves around an elderly, and somewhat eccentric, managing director of an auction house, Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush), who intersects with Claire Ibbetson (Sylvia Hoeks), whose parents have died and left a sizable collection of art and antiques.

Virgil Oldman is a solitary, cultured man who has always protected himself from any kind of contact with another human being, going so far as to constantly wear gloves to protect his integrity. The day he turns sixty-three, Virgil receives a phone call from a mysterious young heiress Claire Ibbetson whose parents have died and left a sizable collection of art and antiques and who asks him to handle the disposal of some family works of art. With the help of an astute young artificer, Robert (Jim Sturgess), who aids Virgil in deciphering some odd items found amongst Claire’s inheritance, Virgil’s life begins to take an unexpected turn. It is Robert who shows him, step-by-step, how to win the heart of a young woman who is afraid of the world and, caught in the middle of this puzzling game of chess, Virgil soon finds himself enveloped by a passion that will transform his grey existence forever.

Ok, all this might sound a little cheesy, but this isn’t all: while Oldman is an accepted authority as an authenticator of all forms of antiquities, his poise and prestige are tempered by an ongoing scam: he mislabels masterpieces, then has his friend Billy Whistler (Donald Sutherland) buy them at a fraction of their real value and pass them back to him. In this way, Oldman can sit obsessively in his private strongroom, gazing at his massive collection of female portraits. And this will be the key…

Definitely entertaining, the movie opens the doors to an incredibly exciting world: antiques, fine art and refinement. Sometimes a bit long, particularly when Claire keeps hiding in her old palace, the movie still manages to lead us to its point, drafting the metaphorical sense of Art: the Art of transforming one’s passion into possession. The Art of transforming one’s drive for perfection and striving for protection of the self into one’s flow and vulnerability. Although the final twist can easily be predicted in advance, getting out of the movie theatre, one cannot keep from wondering: can forgery really go that far? You should form your own opinion on this really captivating story.

Released in October 2013 in Belgium

A movie by: Giuseppe Tornatore – 2013

With: Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks, Donald Sutherland

Length: 2h10

Other: O.V. subtitled French/Dutch

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Curieuse, spontanée, enthousiaste et exigeante, j'aime aller au théâtre et j'aime raconter ce que j'y vois, que j'ai aimé ou pas!

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