Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Forger: Travolta’s Monet
J. Cutter is not exactly Raffles or the Pink Panther. This working class art
thief and forger is a decidedly Gloomy Gus. His son Will’s terminal illness
gives him a very valid reason. To get out of prison while there is still time to
reconnect with the young lad, Cutter makes a deal with the devil involving a
Monet. Eventually, things will get caperish in Philip Martin’s The Forger (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York.
a little less than a year left on his sentence, Cutter would ordinarily sit
tight and do the time. Unfortunately, time is one thing Will Cutter does not
have, so Cutter reaches out to Keegan, a Boston mobster, to “fix” things with
the judge. Of course, there will be a quid pro quo. In this case, Cutter must steal
Monet’s Woman with a Parasol on loan
from the National Gallery, replacing it with a fake. It seems Keegan desperately
needs to clear a debt to his art-loving cartel connection—hence the caper.
takes a while to get to the actual art thievery though. Instead, Martin and
screenwriter Richard D’Ovidio force viewers to cool their heels in a lot of
hospital waiting rooms and sit through many father-and-son heart-to-hearts. Patience
and character development are both good things, but at some point the film
starts to feel like it is stalling for time.
has been a while since Travolta rekindled that old magic on-screen, but in a
way that works to his advantage here. Believe it or not, he is quite good as
Cutter, forcefully conveying all his guilt and regret, without wallowing in
melodramatic excess. Unfortunately, Tye Sheridan is pretty dull and wooden as his
son, whereas it is hard to know what to make of Christopher Plummer as Travolta’s
extremely Irish father.
are random flashes of chemistry between Travolta and Abigail Spencer’s Special
Agent Paisley, but the film goes out of its way to keep them apart. The actual
heist is well executed, but the film’s baffling casts its lead characters as Red
Sox fans, thereby making it extremely difficult to establish any degree of
Much to the frustration of his fans, The Forger probably ranks as one of
Travolta’s better vehicles in recent years (anyone care to make a case for Old Dogs or Wild Hogs? Anyone?). It is not without merit, but it is maddeningly
uneven and undeniably slow out of the blocks. Watchable but hardly worthy of
Manhattan movie ticket prices, The Forger
opens tomorrow (4/24) in New York, at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Caper movies, John Travolta