The Man Who Copied

Writer-director Jorge Furtado's quirky coming-of-age fable follows mild-mannered, minimum-wage slave Andre (Lazaro Ramos) along a highly eccentric route that leads him out of the fantasy world in his head and into flawed, sometimes cruel, often frustrating and always unpredictable reality. But even as Andre's journey takes detours into stalking, counterfeiting,...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Writer-director Jorge Furtado's quirky coming-of-age fable follows mild-mannered, minimum-wage slave Andre (Lazaro Ramos) along a highly eccentric route that leads him out of the fantasy world in his head and into flawed, sometimes cruel, often frustrating and always unpredictable reality. But even as Andre's journey takes detours into stalking, counterfeiting, robbery and worse, the film maintains an incongruous sweetness of tone. Too broke to date, barhop or enjoy the typical pastimes of a young man, 19-year-old dropout Andre shares a cramped apartment with his mother and barely ekes out a living working in a copy shop. He dreams vaguely of becoming a professional cartoonist and whiles away the empty nights sketching and watching his neighbors with a pair of binoculars. Andre becomes infatuated with Silvia (Leandra Leal), the pretty girl he sees nightly through an uncovered sliver of window in the apartment she shares with her loutish father (Carlos Cunha). Unfortunately, his clever plan to strike up an acquaintance with Silvia involves buying something at the ladies' clothing shop where she works, which means he needs money more than ever. So Andre clumsily uses his boss' new color copier to forge a 50 real note, beginning a life of crime that eventually includes his sexy coworker Marines (Luana Piovani), her sad-sack admirer Cardoso (Pedro Cardoso), and the volatile pusher (Julio Andrade) who's always encouraging Andre to stop being a sap and join him in the drug-dealing business. It's all as preposterously offbeat as it is oddly charming. Furtado's urban fairy tale occasionally drifts into AMERICAN SPLENDOR (2003)-style pessimism, evoking SPLENDOR's distinctive mix of cartoon images and live action by dividing the screen into comic-book frames that echo the lonely, boxlike apartments into which Andre peers or animating the autobiographical strip he uses to put a comfortingly distanced spin on his grim childhood. It's too fundamentally light-hearted to wallow in grinding poverty and despair; the film flirts with danger — and goes so far as to make murder part of Andre's plan to escape to a new life with Silvia — but invariably opts for fantasy when things get too rough. (In Portuguese, with English subtitles.)

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