2015 / Director. Philip Martin.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
John Travolta hasn’t been a good actor for a very long time and the fact that his wig upstages him in almost every film speaks volumes. Having had his career resurrected by Quentin Tarantino in the mid 90s, followed by a decade-long high at the top of Hollywood, he has once again found himself in that familiar position of irrelevance. Nothing he makes seems to matter any more and whatever wig of choice adorns his head makes him look like he just stepped off the stage of a London pantomime.
Naturally I take any new Travolta film with a grain of salt and my expectation levels are kept very low. THE FORGER flew under my radar and eluded me right up until the point of picking up the blu-ray with my own hands. The cover art was basic and gave the impression of being a thriller. The synopsis on the reverse side promised a taut and slick heist thriller. The fact that all of this was completely misleading actually worked in its favour. It is not taut and it is not slick… in fact it’s not really a thriller at all.
Travolta plays a criminal art forger who strikes a deal with a local crime boss to get an early release from prison. The condition is that he must recreate one of Monet’s most intricate works of art and switch it with the real piece within three days. And so upon release he gets to work while reconnecting with his teenage son and elderly father. There are circumstances at play that are best left unsaid but suffice to say that THE FORGER plays out as an emotional drama-piece, rather than a crime caper.
John Travolta is good and were it not for the constant distraction of his stupid fucking hairpiece, it would have been a completely convincing performance. He digs deep and the role feels personal. With overarching themes that mirror his own life, it proves to be quite an earnest and courageous performance. He given strong support by Christopher Plummer who plays the aged and bad-ass father/grandfather and Tye Sheridan as the estranged son. I am convinced that Sheridan is one of the greatest young actors going around at the moment and with previous turns in MUD and JOE he is establishing himself as a brilliant young performer who can hold his own against some of Hollywood’s most elite.
THE FORGER is far from being a perfect film and with more attention it could have been great. It’s a little uneven when balancing the two genres and with a stronger focus on the drama (and removal of wig) it could have been an absolute belter. But having said that, I took a lot from it and was pleasantly surprised. It certainly isn't worthy of the criticisms it’s been receiving and is ultimately an unsuspecting dramatic piece with little to no fanfare. Definitely worth the time.