Based on a true story, Maggie Pears“The Forger” follows a young man’s quiet, reluctant journey to heroism. He did not meet most of the more than 300 people he saved, nor did he seem particularly motivated to do the work for a greater purpose. It was a job, and it helped him get paid with ration cards, which he used to court a young woman who called herself Gerda (Luna Wedler)—but that’s not his real name. She also keeps secrets, like a fiancee in the front, but has to date other men like Cioma to survive.
Peren, who wrote and directed “The Forger,” subtly takes on these conflicting characters one by one. Det, who at first looks like a soft-spoken tailor, finds a lifeline through market women, and his connections make him earn here and there. Frau Peters announces her naive personality early on, but later shows a deeper sense of internal turmoil with all that is happening. Not all are as they originally appeared—except for the Nazi officers, what you see is what you get with them.
But no one has undergone a transformation like Cioma. Forgery appears to encourage Cioma to take on different personalities, the better to blend in and avoid suspicion in the light of day if he acts like Nazi Germany. He rides public transportation during the day, goes out to party at night dressed as a naval officer, and talks back to the Germans if it means throwing them off his case. It’s a bold game of bluff, and it heightens the suspense of the movie. Will he be able to talk his way out of this? How long can his nerves withstand the pressure before he has to make his own way out? Fortunately, Louis Hofmann is an engaging lead, with the charisma to switch gears mid-scene, changing his tone and body language in the same breath. When things inevitably turn dark, he can carry the film with his expressive eyes, bringing to the screen a character that seems to have seen him in his youth.