Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: John Travolta, Christopher Plummer, Tye Sheridan, Abigail Spencer, Anson Mount, Marcus Thomas, Travis Aaron Wade, Lyndon Smith, Jennifer Ehle
Written by: Richard D'Ovidio
Directed by: Philip Martin
MPAA Rating: R for language and some violence
Running Time: 92
Date: 04/24/2015
IMDB

The Forger (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Art of the Matter

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

John Travolta has been in quite a few bad movies, and he can be lazy or hammy in his performances, but as soon as he appears onscreen in The Forger, it's clear that, for his role as Ray Cutter, he has found a place of restraint, tapping into some sort of interior pain and truth. (Sure, his highlighted hair and tiny beard are a little nutty, but they're just decoration.) He also has a good bond with young Tye Sheridan, who has had an exemplary career so far, with strong performances in The Tree of Life, Mud, and Joe.

Though he only has ten months left on his prison term, Ray Cutter (Travolta) asks a favor of an underworld boss, Keegan (Anson Mount), so he can get out immediately. The reason, it turns out, is that his 15 year-old son Will (Sheridan) has an inoperable brain tumor and he wants to spend time together. To pay back the favor, however, Keegan gives Ray the job of forging Monet's "Woman with Parasol" in just three weeks' time, and also gives him the nearly impossible task of stealing the real one and replacing it with his copy. Meanwhile, Ray has promised Will "three wishes," and he requests to meet his mother, a junkie (Jennifer Ehle), to be intimate with a girl, and to help his father on the job.

The plot is a little lackluster — the climactic heist isn't very climactic — but director Philip Martin creates a strong sense of place, in Boston and other nearby spots, and a strong sense of community among the characters. Christopher Plummer is terrific as Ray's father, and Anson Mount makes a refreshingly matter-of-fact gangster. The Forger isn't a great movie, and it's sometimes a bit too low-key, but it's appealingly sincere.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray release, disappointingly, only comes with a studio-produced featurette. Picture and sound quality is fine. For Travolta fans, this is one of his better efforts in recent years.

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