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Apr 24, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: The Hoax

A big problem with a lot of films is that they either don't have enough story, or what story they do have isn't enough to sustain your attention for 90+ minutes. That's not the case with The Hoax, a forgotten "true life" drama starring Richard Gere, Alfred Molina and Hope Davis, currently leaving your local theater.

The film, directed with a quick pace and eye for accuracy by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules), plays out like Catch Me If You Can mixed with Shattered Glass mixed with The Aviator (which can't help but be intertwined due to its subject matter).

Gere plays somehwat-failed 70s novelist Clifford Irving, known more for this story than for any other piece of fiction that he wrote. Near the end of Howard Hughes' life, with all of his idiosyncrasies (to put it gently) still fully intact and his shyness from the media (and the general public) still in full force, Irving claimed to have a whale of a tale - the authorized biography of Hughes.

What starts as a desperate ploy for money and fame soon avalanches in a most dangerous game, involving Irving's wife (Marcia Gay Harden), his best friend/assistant (Molina) and his mistress (Julie Delpy).

Gere gives his best performance since 1996's Primal Fear, and he may even be better here than he was there. You can feel the giddy delight in the rush of his ruse, his stubborn refusal to go down in flames, no matter the stakes or the consequence.

The film takes a (somewhat) odd turn in the last act, what with conspiracy theories and A Beautiful Mind-like sequences, but it's not enough to overshadow the exciting first two acts.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin'!"

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