The Hoax

"Very Good"

The Hoax Review


Everybody loves a good con artist, a guy who can bluff his way into or out of anything. He's isn't violent, not a gangster, but a smooth-talking charmer whose poker face doesn't flinch no matter how dangerous or delicate the situation gets. Lasse Hallström's latest, The Hoax, offers a portrait of such a con artist, a real-life fabulist who makes James Frey (the disgraced "non-fiction" writer behind 2003's A Million Little Pieces) and his shenanigans look like chump change.

Richard Gere, perfectly cast, plays Clifford Irving, a down-and-out writer who in 1971 wrote (and nearly got published) a fake biography of Howard Hughes. Desperate to jump-start his career, Irving duped his editor Andrea Tate (Hope Davis) and the top dogs at McGraw-Hill into believing he was not only a friend of Hughes, the notorious recluse, but that the billionaire had tapped Irving to write his life story. Smelling a publishing sensation, McGraw-Hill offered Irving a then-record publishing deal, and the writer suddenly found himself the crown prince of the publishing world.

Working from William Wheeler's adaptation of Irving's own memoirs, Hallström keeps a generally light touch over the material. This is good news for Gere and Alfred Molina, who plays fellow writer and reluctant partner-in-crime Dick Suskind. Irving and Suskind make for a pair of bumbling sleuths, and, as played by Gere and Molina, there's a nervous and unexpected comic energy between them. Chief among The Hoax's small but lively amusements is watching Irving and Suskind slip out of one mess and into another. Irving even fools handwriting experts and Hughes associates with forged letters, faked tape interviews in which he affects Hughes' vocal patterns, and fabricates entire conversations with Hughes, off-the-cuff, to appease his publisher's suspicions. It's only when word of Irving's ploy leaks to the media that the question of his veracity is taken to task until Hughes himself, emerging from a shroud of secrecy, blows the whistle on Irving in a bizarre televised conference call with politicos.

Suskind, the morally aggrieved of the two, protests against going through with their scheme at every turn. But Irving's snake-oil charm wins him over. It's the same charm that keeps Irving's marriage to Edith (Marcia Gay Harden) glued together. With convincing shows of remorse and devotion, Irving overrides Edith's displeasure of his ongoing affair with Nina (Julie Delpy), a would-be actress. Wheeler interweaves Irving's professional conniving with his domestic ones -- their fortunes rising and falling in sync, one affecting the other in an efficient, albeit predictable, strategy for tracing the man's rise-and-fall narrative arc.

Gere capably conveys just enough of Irving's inner panic, roiling beneath the surface of sly grins and heady boasts, to get us to sympathize with, and, yes, even root for him as the stakes rise higher and higher. In examining the mind of a capitol liar, The Hoax succeeds in depicting how all lies -- and, thereby, all fiction -- is a marriage of the imagination and of real life; by re-contextualizing events into a fictional setup and interchanging their order, Irving invents his fanciful lies. It's a truthful observation about how truths are twisted to fit one's strategic needs. Hallström also nicely evokes the period, in all its polyestered and frizzy haired glory, and takes amusing digs at the gathering storm of political scandal enveloping Irving's America.

As a stylist, however, Hallström's never been much to shout about, especially with his recent films, and such is the case with The Hoax. As the story's temperature rises, we crave for Hallström's style -- some gesture from the camera or editing -- to jolt itself awake, a snap of subversion or wickedness equal to Irving's own high-wire stunt work. When Irving sinks deeper into his own delusional cauldron, believing in his own paranoia about Hughes' agents tailing him, it whiffs of dramatic contrivance, derivative of similar material like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Wheeler and Hallström's attempts to steer towards "darker" territory fall flat and long-winded. Still, as a well-behaved caper comedy featuring standout performances from Gere and Molina, The Hoax pulls a good con, and we play along, delightedly.

You wanna hear a good hoax? OK, there's this guy and a gerbil...



The Hoax

Facts and Figures

Run time: 116 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th April 2007

Production compaines: Miramax Films, Bob Yari Productions, The Mark Gordon Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , , , Joshua D. Maurer,

Starring: as Nina Van Pallandt, as Clifford Irving, John Carter as Harold McGraw, as Brad Silber, James Biberi as McGraw-Hill Security, as Andrea Tate, Christopher Evan Welch as Albert Vanderkamp, Raul Julia Jr. as Bike Messenger, Judi Barton as Marion, as Dick Suskind, as Edith Irving, Okwui Okpokwasili as Malika, as Dana, Bob Wiltfong as Sporting Goods Salesman, William Fowle as Car Salesman, as Bahamas Desk Clerk, Antonie Knoppers as Fredrick Van Pallandt, Steve Buck as Man with Red Tie, Eric Yellin as Man in Blue Jeans, as Puffy Man

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.