The Hoax

Rated NR

Richard Gere is surprisingly excellent as novelist-turned-con man Clifford Irving in this true tale of the greatest literary hoax of the 20th century. Irving--desperate, broke and forced to wear the kind of clothing that only the late ’60s/early ’70s could foist upon him--decided to fake an autobiography of Howard Hughes, the reclusive billionaire who had dropped from the public eye 10 years earlier. With help from the chronically nervous Dick Susskind (Alfred Molina, giving a flop-sweat-heavy performance riddled with obsessive compulsive brilliance), he created a vast library of forged documents and an intricate web of intercontinental lies. Director Lasse Halström neatly captures the time and the mood, casting and pacing his film with the kind of care normally reserved for alcoholic actresses at expensive rehab centers. It’s probably a little too complex, morally ambiguous and historically intricate for the average viewer, but it’s photographed with a lush sadness and conveys a tale too seldom told: that of the industrious, hard-working dreamer who gives everything he has and fails anyway.

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