A heavy dose of whimsy is mixed with some effortful social commentary and misguided caper shenanigans in this Brazilian film by Jorge Furtado. “The Man Who Copied” benefits from an amusingly deadpan lead performance by Lazaro Ramos as a lovesick photocopy machine operator who tries his hand at counterfeiting in order to connect with the girl he admires from afar–with the obligatory disastrous results–but the script’s shifts of tone are never smoothly melded, and the lethargic pacing drags the story out mercilessly.
Ramos plays Andre, who–in what’s becoming an increasingly annoying crutch for filmmakers–narrates his life at such inordinate length, especially early on in the picture, that the movie threatens to become an audiobook with illustrations. Andre, who lives with his TV-addicted mother in a small flat in Porto Alegre, barely makes ends meet with his menial job, and when he becomes obsessed with a neighbor girl (whom he spies on with binoculars from his window across the street), he wants to impress her by purchasing something from her at the store where she works. Unfortunately, he’s nearly broke, so he uses the copying machine on a banknote and then goes through a convoluted process to lauder it and spend the real bill he’s exchanged it for. But that’s just the beginning salvo in a plot that eventually takes turns into a botched bank robbery, a most unlikely victory in the national lottery, a confrontation with a drug dealer, and a convoluted scheme to take revenge on a blackmailer who also happens to be a sexual pervert. As the more serious elements of the tale take over, the writer-director attempts to maintain a comic air, though it becomes increasingly dark and macabre. But by the time people are getting shot and lured to their deaths, you may find it more and more difficult to laugh at the proceedings. (“Charade” this is not.)
There are some elements in the film that have an engaging effect. One is the occasional use of animation (Andre being an amateur cartoonist), and another is the eclectic score, which employs classical music as well as popular tunes to complement the action. And even as the story goes south, Ramos–as laid-back and phlegmatic here as he was over-the-top in “Madame Sata”–holds the screen nicely. His co-stars–Leandra Leal as romantic interest Silvia, Pedro Cardoso as a buddy with a larcenous streak, and Luana Piovani as Andre’s sexpot co-worker–provide solid support.
But in the final analysis Furtado’s film is just too clumsily structured and lackadaisically paced to make the grade.