A brisk little British caper film, "Fakers" turns on a desperate petty criminal's attempt to simultaneously sell forged copies of a rare sketch by a minor Italian artist to several London galleries within a stone's throw of one another. Matthew Rhys stars as the charming crook, Nick Edwards, who owes 50,000 pounds to a psychotic crime boss played by Art Malik, and has four days in which to pay.
Rhys, who plays Calista Flockhart's sibling in "Brothers & Sisters," carries the film, slinging writer Paul Gerstenberger's banterish dialogue with casual flair. Nick is the kind of guy who gets beat up a lot and usually earns an extra punch or kick with his smart mouth.
He stumbles upon an opportunity to pay off his debt when he buys a gift for the brother of a girl, Eve ("Shaun of the Dead's" feisty Kate Ashfield), he fancies. The present contains what appears to be a sketch made by one Antonio Fraccini in Sicily in 1911 (the story of which is seen in the film's brief prologue) and is estimated to be worth 15,000 to 20,000 pounds. Obviously, he's going to need more than one Fraccini.
Fortunately for Nick, Eve's brother, Tony (Tom Chambers), is an artist with a knack for mimicking Fraccini. Eve, who initially feigns to loathe Nick, demands to be cut in, as does Phil (Tony Haygarth), the art expert they consult. Soon, Tony is cranking out copies like a one-man Kinko's.
As Nick's scheme becomes more complex, it also becomes more treacherous. Director Richard Janes does a fine job whenever the gambol is taking shape, the swindlers are swindling or the sparks are flying between Rhys and Ashfield, but brings things to a halt several times with desultory montage sequences.
The scenario isn't entirely plausible, but the actors are engaging and you can't beat the running time.
firstname.lastname@example.org -- "Fakers." MPAA rating: R for language and some nudity. Running time: 1 hour, 21 minutes. At Mann's Beverly Center Cinemas, at Beverly and La Cienega boulevards, Los Angeles, (310) 652-7760; Laemmle's One Colorado, 42 Miller Alley (inside plaza, Fair Oaks at Union avenues), Pasadena, (626) 744-1224.