Aug 8, 2007

Movie Review: The Hoax (2007)

Considering our current obsession with media dishonesty, there couldn't be a better time for this fictionalised film version of Clifford Irving's memoir The Hoax. Irving was the struggling writer who, in 1971, lied his way into a million dollar cheque and a wave of controversy when he claimed to have been engaged by Howard Hughes to write the reclusive tycoon's autobiography. It's a great story, cleverly embellished by director Lasse Hallström and superbly acted by an on-form Richard Gere.

Film is a medium that continually toys with our perceptions of what is real and what is not, so it's no surprise that characters like Irving make great cinematic heroes. From Orson Welles' F For Fake - actually based on an earlier Irving book on art forgery - to George Clooney's Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, the lives of great liars can be told without boundaries. As such, Hallström and writer William Wheeler spin Irving's story in several directions, some true, some false, even perhaps losing sight of the facts themselves. The result is a tremendous shaggy dog story that bounds capably between comedy and tragedy.


As David Fincher's Zodiac recently proved, this period, with its lasting cultural connotations of White House deception, is a perfect setting for conspiracy theories. The Hoax goes too far when it tries to incorporate Watergate, but otherwise the clothes, the music and the atmosphere of early 70s America make this a satisfying companion to All The President's Men. However, it's Richard Gere's performance that really stands out. His trademark impenetrability is the perfect cloak for a character with the moral and psychological complexity necessary to attempt such an audacious scam.

The Hoax is out in the UK on 3rd August 2007.

Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: William Wheeler
Stars: Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, Marcia Gay Harden, Julie Delpy, Hope Davis, Stanley Tucci
Genre: Drama
Length: 116 minutes
Cinema: 03 August 2007
Country: USA

*this review is officially published at

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