The Man Who Copied
Dir. Jorge Furtado. 2004. N/R. 124mins. In Portugese with subtitles. Lazaro Ramos, Leandra Leal, Luana Piovani, Pedro Cardoso.
For its first 30 minutes, this Brazilian drama listens in on the droll perceptions of Andre (Ramos), an introverted, gorgeous stationery-store clerk who lives with his mother, spies on his neighbors with binoculars and makes Keith Haring–like comic-book collages by night. When Andre begins flirting with his cute-as-a-cupcake neighbor Silvia (Leal), the film seems to be settling into a character-driven American Splendor groove. Then it abruptly dives into the harsher rhythms of Latin-American crime films like Nine Queens and City of God, as Andre begins misusing the fancy color copier at work to make his own currency. Soon, the social misfit is mired in a counterfeiting and bank-robbing conspiracy involving a vampy co-worker (Piovani), her flashy boyfriend (Cardoso) and Silvia, who has an agenda of her own.
The ensuing plot twists—and there are many—are never less than diverting, but as they pile up, the movie devolves into a guess-what-comes-next con game with fewer illuminating forays into Andre's comic-book consciousness. Director Furtado genuinely understands what it's like to be young, broke and foolish, but his debut feature is an ungainly chimera. Strikingly original in some aspects, as bogus as a fake $100 bill in others, it's nevertheless worth paying real money to see. (Opens Fri: Landmark's Century Centre.)—Justine Elias