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The Best Offer (Giuseppe Tornatore, Italy). 124 minutes. Tonight (June 12), 7 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox; June 19, 9:15 pm, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Rating: NNN
A magnificent central performance by Geoffrey Rush single-handedly elevates Giuseppe Tornatore's English-language drama from well-appointed Euro-trifle to worthwhile diversion.
As a fussy, corrupt Italian auctioneer who becomes obsessed with a reclusive young woman (Danish TV star Sylvia Hoeks) when he's asked to appraise her family's belongings, Rush is simply terrific, holding the camera with the slightest of looks or the smallest bit of physical business.
It's a complex and difficult character, and Rush inhabits the part fully, which goes a long way to compensate for Tornatore's undercooked script, which strains to find worthy subplots for co-stars Donald Sutherland and Jim Sturgess.
Ultimately, this is Rush's movie, and everything else is a distraction.
Mona Lisa Is Missing (Joe Medeiros, U.S./UK/Italy/France). 86 minutes. Saturday (June 14), 4 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Rating: NN
When he was just starting out, TV writer Joe Medeiros wrote a fictional script about the real theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911 by an Italian mason named Vincenzo Peruggia. Medeiros never got that movie made, but his self-described obsession with the case has led to this personal documentary.
Mona Lisa Is Missing explores Peruggia's background, talks to his surviving relatives, visits the apartment where the painting was hidden for two years as the thief waited for the heat to die down, and even considers alternate theories about who stole the Mona Lisa and why.
There are some intriguing historical nuggets here, but Medeiros buries them under hacky sound effects, cutout animation and far too much footage of himself and his crew chasing the story around Europe, as if he's worried the audience might get bored.