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At the end of The Counterfeiters, I learned via voice-over that the counterfeiting work I had just watched is the biggest counterfeiting operation of all time, all while the protagonist dances with a woman on the beach in the moonlight. Aw, how cute.

Maybe the movie should have, instead, been titled, Yay! For the Counterfeiting Jew.

Despite the film winning the best foreign film honor at this year’s Oscar ceremony, The Counterfeiters is just another “issues” movie that expects people to love it just because it’s about underdogs, just like previous overrated Academy Award winners Schindler’s List and Crash.

Salomon “Sally” Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics)  is a high-roller, spending money at a high-class resort and eating and drinking only the finest. He has a flashback, and we get to the meat of the story: Around 1939, Sally counterfeited everything from passports to money, and even different currencies, like the dollar and the pound. He is eventually caught and put in a concentration camp. Because of his renknown for making fake bills-he is considered the best counterfeiter anyone can find-the Nazis put him to work, to make counterfeit notes which, as we learn, is what is financing the Nazi war movement.

Therein lies a conflict between Sally and a fellow prisoner, whose wife and children arein Auschwitz. He wants to stand-up for what is right and sabotage the Nazi money-making machine, but Sally and the others involved just want to stay alive. Instead of letting events speak for themselves, like the prisoners getting better beds than those not working on the counterfeiting operation, the story “speaks” the issue through dialogue, telling instead of showing. “This is wrong” seems to be the message throughout, but it doesn’t have a chance to get through a bored audience. Thelast ten minutes are pathetic and even more forced than the unnatural events that have come before it.

The Counterfeiters really has the potential to be something fantastic. Or maybe I only think that because the basic plot isn’t as contrived as the other ninety-per cent of the movie.

Rating: 5/10


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