Movie Review: The Forger

by Michael Zabel

Imagine if you will, a world where the most prestigious forums of fine art are filled with counterfeit replicas…a community of artists that can only seem to generate substantial incomes by creating said forgeries…a homeless teenager who has the raw savant-like talent to copy the style of any master painter without any practice whatsoever being thrust into the underground society of fine art forgery.  This is the premise of The Forger…one of, if not the, most atrocious movies I have ever seen.
Let us begin our critique with the cover of this “lifetime” movie:

Does that font look familiar?  Full disclosure, I am aware that Josh Hutcherson is indeed in both of these movies.  Do you think the designer of this cover could be trying to capitalize off the success of the other?  Or even worse, trying to trick people into picking the wrong movie at the Red Box?  The flames are an applicable design element on The Hunger Games cover while I can not recall one moment in the movie where fire was part of the plot in The Forger and on that note, the handwritten script apparently edited out when this movie went straight to DVD.   Also left on the cutting room floor…many details of the storyline and smooth transitions from scene to scene.

The storyline of this flick was entirely unbelievable.  It was almost as if the writer – if there was one – had a primary goal of showcasing Josh Hutcherson’s (or JHutch, for the ‘tweens out there) constipation face.  The cover says it all…Two hours of that face.  He’s so serious, so tortured.  Getting back to the story, JHutch, a homeless teenage vagabond, serendipitously stumbles into the retired artist community of Carmel, you know, by the sea (which evidently was the working title for the flick according to IMDB).  While in Carmel, our protagonist runs into an artist, played by Alfred Molina/Doctor Octopus, who seemingly makes a living by selling his kitschy landscape paintings in his various “high class” galleries around town.  As the plot thickens the unfortunate audience learns that this sheister has a secret workshop in his mansion where he replicates master paintings for millions of dollars.  His main client apparently is some ignorant sheik from an unidentified country who has an unlimited budget to purchase paintings for his wife.  So long story short, Doc-Oc discovers the hidden talent of this homeless boy and enlists him in his forgery scheme by enticing him with his riches – a mansion, a sports car and a menagerie of gaudy watches and cuff links.  If only his character from the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark could see him now!

The thing that kills me about this movie, aside from the tepid acting, is that the main character is never practicing his craft.  An early scene in the movie shows a self portrait on a mirror along with a monochromatic ceiling mural (insulting nod to Michelangelo) he completed while squatting in a cheap motel.  One scene depicts him accidentally finding a half-finished fake of a Charles Rollo Peters nocturne, which he deftly completes simply by copying a photograph.  In another scene a pen is literally thrust into his hand while a drawing pad sits in front of him and he draws a flawless rendition of Hank Ketchum’s Dennis the Mennace – the forger’s favorite artist.  The same scene also diminishes the achievements of two of my most influential muses Leonardo and Pablo.  And aside from one inferred instance where we briefly see – and I mean two, three seconds tops – the drawings of his love interest (Hayden Panettiere), this is about it.  I guess he was just born with the gift of natural artistic prowess – sarcastically speaking of course.  In conclusion, this movie is not recommendable save for the many laughs you will get from the ridiculous and audacious liberties the crew took in making this one.  I think it is fair to say that this movie was not created by anyone working in the art industry, and was definitely not made to portray integrity/ethics inherent to being an artist.  Furthermore, this movie is spreading the falsity that the only way to be financially successful as an artist is to be a hack.  If you do end up watching it (on purpose or accidentally) just kick back, relax and at least get a good laugh because it will be two hours of your life you will never get back.     

         

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