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An interesting true story translated into a quite slow 'just OK' film
on 31 May 2008
This is the story of how a struggling author called Clifford Irving was so desperate for success he decided to make up a story that he was in contact with Howard Hughes who had agreed for Irving to write his life story. Shockingly, Irving's publisher's believed this, leading to a huge chain of events where this hoax snowballed out of control.
The story itself is an amazing one, especially considering as it was actually true. So I was looking forward to seeing how exactly Irving, played by an in-form Richard Gere, actually managed to pull this stunt off. The film itself portrays the key events well, showing vividly the pivotal moment where Irving suddenly takes the dramatic decision to embark on the hoax. The attention to detail and planning that went into maintaining and fueling the sham are very convincingly acted, drifting between high drama and moments of comedy as some of the lies Irving creates to deflect awkward questions get more and more outrageous.
But what lets the film down is that the plotline moves along very slowly, the film's almost 2 hours long but there's a lot of bloat and irrelevant subplots that could easily have been left out. For someone responsible for such an amazing deception you should come away at least feeling a bit of admiration for his ingenuity, or a little sorry for him, or maybe even be cheering him on. But Irving is portrayed in this film in a way that makes you not really feel anything for him, he doesn't come across as particularly likeable or humorous, he doesn't seem a very warm character, you just end up not caring if he pulls it off or not. This is a real pity as a plot as audacious as this should have a lot more emotional engagement with the viewer, you should feel almost as caught up in it as the characters, but in the end you just feel very detached from it all and quite underwhelmed.
A good film, but with a storyline as fascinating as this, it should have been a lot better.