"You ever going to Tahiti like Paul Gauguin? I don't know."
If there's something Travolta remained loyal to, then surely it's his distinctive, sad look. Ever since I saw him the first time appearing in "Saturday Night Fever" (ages ago), he uses that sad expression. It always looks as if he's going to burst out in tears. And the movie"The Forger" is substantively perfect for retrieving that typical facial expression at the right time. A film about a convicted forger who turned his back at his former profession. And at the same time he's a concerned father who would do anything to be with his son the short time that's left. And that's where this movie fails a bit. Does the emphasis lie on the father-son relationship or was it the intention to make a crime story? The final result is a mix of these two, with the result that both aspects feel like semi-finished.
Raymond J. Cutter (John Travolta) is a notorious forger of art works and is about to be released earlier because of a deal with a thug called Keegan (Anson Mount). In this way he can spend some time with his son Will (Tye Sheridan), a petite teenager whose future doesn't look so rosy after they've discovered a brain tumor. To say the very least, the relationship between Will and his father isn't too good. Also between Raymond and his father (Christopher Plummer), who took care of Will during Raymond's absence, there are some disputes. The additional problem is that Keegan expects something in return from Raymond, namely forging a valuable, world famous painting from Monet.
Now, I'm not an art expert but I don't think you can forge a Monet painting in such a short time period. I'm sure you don't really need high-tech methods to determine from the outset if the painting hanging on the wall is authentic or recently painted. But my gut feeling says that this aspect of "The Forger" is irrelevant and that it's just used as an entertaining way to introduce the father-son relationship. Would Travolta be a professional dancer in this film, and he and his son had to participate in a renowned competition together (where Travolta could show his famous 70s dance moves once again) this would have yielded the same result. Commercially, the result would probably be disappointing. So we throw in a bit of mystery and crime (where Travolta can demonstrate his tough side again and beat up some bouncers with a baseball bat) to make it more attractive.
Although it looks a lot like a typical movie, at times the acting transcends the average. Especially the moments between father and son are beautifully played with vulnerability and regret getting the upper hand. That it eventually turns into a collaboration between father and son, is a bit far-fetched. Plummer also shines at times and shows he's perfectly suited for a character part. Even Travolta demonstrates that he has more to offer than just watching sad all the time. The loss of his son Jett most likely has something to do with his rendition looking so realistic. Maybe he decided to give this role a try as a therapeutic decision, in order to put a painful period in the past.
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