In The Best Offer's denouement, as Oldman (Rush) begins to understand exactly what has happened, there is a series of events involving him going to a restaurant in Prague, moving into a new room furnished to his specifications, finding a tracker in the boot of his car, and eventually him in an asylum. What is the exact sequence of these events? What is their significance?
This is my interpretation:
Remember this quotation:
Claire: In an old article of yours I found on the internet, you said: There's something authentic in every forgery. What did you mean?
Virgil Oldman: When simulating another's work the forger can't resist the temptation to put in something of himself. Often it's just a trifle, a detail of no interest. One unsuspected stroke, by which the forger inevitably ends up betraying himself, and revealing his own utterly authentic sensibilities.
In other words, in everything fake there is something real.
Now, remember Claire's words that Rush replayed in his mind during the ending scenes:
If anything should ever happen to us, I want you to know that I do love you.
At the end of the film, Rush moves into the room furnished to his specifications, overlooking the square. This was the only place Claire mentioned as ever feeling safe and comfortable.
By taking the apartment and going to the restaurant, he is showing hope that she will one day return - which is why he tells the waiter he is waiting for someone.
He is hoping she is the glimmer of truth in the massive forgery. He has lost everything and is a broken man - but he is clinging to hope that that one part of his life could be real.
However, there is another interesting issue to be discussed. Do the asylum scenes take place before or after the restaurant scene?
There is no correct answer to this. Perhaps he was in the asylum and reflected on the events, as the movie showed, during his time there and found some glimmer of hope and waited in the restaurant. Or perhaps he waited in the restaurant, became more and more broken and ended up in the asylum.
All in all, it's up to the viewer.
I think VO(Rush) was in the Asylum shortly after the heist took place and this is where he looks back on the events that took place,this is when we see all he did prior to the asylum. The end is after leaving the asylum, believing he's figured out Claire's one true detail that "the forger" always leaves and moves to Prague with the belief that he'll one day find Claire at Nigh & Day.
I loved this movie! I have to admit the ending was a bit baffling. In retrospect; I believe the ending was actually the ending. I think he ran to the villa, talked with the real Claire and figured out the truth. I think then he had the breakdown and eventually clung to hope which led him to wait for her to come back. Well anyway. Love is fleeting at best. Remember he also lost his first loves: his paintings of all the women he loved.
I think that Virgil spent time at the asylum immediately after losing all his paintings, and Claire. While there, he realized everyone's role in the heist, and also reflected on his relationship with Claire. He was heartbroken and lost. It seems that he became healthier, and finally came to grips with it all. Later, going back out into the world, without gloves, and ready to face reality. Probably for the first time in his life.
Virgil went to Day and Night, a place full of gears and clocks, which somehow ties Robert into the scene where Virgil waits for Claire. Since Claire had mentioned the square as her favorite place, Virgil expected that he might find her there. Probably thinking that she might go into Day and Night.(Would she have shown up with Robert?)
I think that the love scene between Claire and Virgil was very special and believable, contrary to what I read in some professional reviews. He had never been with a woman before, except for his paintings. I found the scene very touching.
Also, there was no reason why Virgil would doubt Claire's love for him, as she convinced him that she was suffering from a serious nuerotic disorder, and came across as lonely and isolated. Claire convinced Virgil that he was the one man she could trust.
I saw this movie on demand only last night, and I really loved it. It was unpredicatable, and interesting.
I just don't understand why the main character, Oldman, would be betrayed by his long time friend....unless I look at it...not as a betrayal..but as an elaborate plan to change his friends life before they both retire.
I say this because as far as I can tell the only things stolen were these portraits of women. Nothing else in his home is missing.
in the end, you can say that Oldman is heartbroken, destroyed, but is he? After the assylum, he is moving on with life. Yes, still holding out hope that "claire" loved him.
Yet, oldman is no longer a man wearing gloves, hiding in an enclosed room, afraid of contact with the outside world.
Was his friend, himself deciding it was time, for both to retire, trying to do one last thing for his friend Oldman? Using the ultimate "forgery" to intrigue and get Oldman involved, with life? Was this his way to lure Oldman out of his limited life with portraits of women and into the world?
Consider the conversation where Oldman says that Billy is slipping, and perhaps time to retire. Consider the ONLY things which are stolen from Oldman are the portraits of women. He isnt ruined with regard to wealth. Nothing in his home was stolen except the portraits of women.
Billy says at one point they will meet again. So, I think Billy will come walking into the "Night and Day". I think Billy loved his friend enough to want him to change his life before it was too late.
I think that the only reason for Virgil to end up in an asylum would be because he was really suffering advancing dementia or Alzheimer's. But I believe he actually ends up living with the outside world for the first time, gloveless and breaking out of his routine. True it's sad he got taken, but in the end he was the one who was given the gift to break out of his shell, leaving behind in exchange all his fantasies or "forgeries" that were holding him back from truly living in reality. I think that this movie services as a bigger metaphor for how we often become stuck in the safety of our illusions rather than taking risks and getting hurt. The only difference was that Virgil was being taken for profit of money while he began to take profit for his heart and soul. This story to me can also be seen as redemption, whereby Virgil begins to slowly forfeit his materialistic desires and deceit of self and others for something more enduring and authentic. In a sense, Virgil becomes the authentic, living work of art rather than the forger hoarding authentic works of art. The ending idea where he's in an asylum only makes sense to me if he began losing his grasp of reality.- which is possible I suppose because if it happened that way, once he began living in reality, he could have snapped and it became too much for him to accept and handle. Still, if you're an optimist you would believe he began to flourish after being awakened, hence him beginning a new life in Prague, gloveless waiting with hope that his affair with fake Claire was more than just a scam. The movie is deliberately ambiguous at the end so that the viewer could decide based on their own views.
I could tell from various subtle clues given birth by the screenwriter, but brought to full fruition by the director, that everything that took place after the first auction was a dream in the sleeping mind of one Virgil Oldman. In fact, he was waking up right about now, thinking what a long, strange trip that was.
But seriously, I had to believe that the writer would tell us that Virgil had become a broken man and that is how he lived the last years of his life. How did I miss that was an asylum? I thought it was a nursing home. I'll have to revisit that.
I'd prefer to think he got better and thus the sequences was simply out of order, but look at the structure. First he's in the nursing asylum, then he's not, but wait, he's back in the home, except no, he's out and about again.
That sure seems like he's thinking about what came before... But there was a reference (in a previous answer above) to him not wearing gloves after the swindle. If that's the case, then perhaps he did get significantly better.
Though I am not a fan of this specific genre of film, I do enjoy stories that have a simplistic line of explanation yet hold a fine degree of emotional depth with a "down to Earth" tone. It didn't take me long to see the con transpiring against Virgil, it was all really in the language and certain parts that subtly gave it away.
As far as the ending goes, I think the true take-home for this was that anything can be forged, even the spectrum of human emotion. Virgil was an intelligent man but socially inept, never really acquiring the tools to properly connect with other people. He was a "forgery" of a human being in his everyday life, showing little to no emotion. The closest thing to emotion he felt were his love for the paintings he collected. His associate, Billy, understood this and used it to concoct the scheme to acquire his multi-million dollar art collection that Virgil himself had gained through illicit practice with Billy's help.
The scam was indeed elaborate, but Billy knew that women were Virgil's weakness, which was not hard to discern through the paintings he collected. To present something “real” to him like love would take his guard down and give Claire the ability to get close enough to see the code for the vault.
Once Virgil realized he had been conned, the hard irony of being a master at identifying forgeries yet not being able to identify true human emotion completely shattered him into a catatonic blank slate. After a time analyzing the situation in the asylum, he went to Prague to begin his search for Claire, believing that bits of what she had told him were genuine in nature.