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The Hoax [DVD]
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 25 August 2013
I watched this a few years ago and although my expectations were fairly low I was pleasently surprised with how good it was considering the low budget and mandane storyline (on paper). Gere along with the wider cast did an excellent job with what was only a reasonably decent script and it ended up being an enjoyable film that kept my interests in it alive throughout. I would not want to watch it again but it was a lot different from most films that I have watched and overall it was a 7/10.
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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.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERon 10 February 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Would you buy the autobiography of Howard Hughes from a man who wrote a book about art fraud and whose novel you'd just rejected as a pale imitation of another author's work? You would if you were McGraw-Hill and you were almost as afraid of looking stupid if it turns out to be real and you rejected it than if it turns out to be a fake you handed out a million dollar advance for. It's a pitch so ridiculous it could only be a true story, though quite how true the sadly overlooked The Hoax is is open to question since it's based on the how-I-nearly-got-away-with-it book by the fraud in question, Clifford Irving, who in turns claims he was defrauded by the filmmakers who turned his book into pure fiction...

The real Irving can be seen in Orson Welles F For Fake, where he goes from expert on art frauds to a literary fraud himself in the course of the film, but while Welles doesn't figure in Lasse Hallström's film it does share some of the devious sense of fun the semi-documentary displayed. The mechanics of the fraud - looking up Hughes' Senate testimony for syntax and speech patterns, photocopying a Hughes' aide's manuscript for insider gossip - are detailed as an exhilarating adrenaline rush, the film perfectly capturing the intoxicating thrill that comes with thinking you're getting away with an outrageous scam and the crash into paranoia as you defend the indefensible so much that the only person you end up fooling is yourself. It also delights in the constant Alice in Wonderland logic of it all: as Richard Gere's Irving explains to Alfred Molina as his researcher and `co-author' Richard Susskind, "(Hughes will) never come out of hiding long enough to denounce me because he's a lunatic hermit and I am the spokesman for the lunatic hermit, so the more outrageous I sound, the more convincing I am!" Too convincing, because Irving gradually starts becoming Hughes as he dictates the millionaire's `memoirs' in the millionaires clothes and pencil moustache until he starts believing his own lies and manages to convince himself that maybe Hughes really is collaborating on the book in his own way to further his own political ends. Just to add to the absurdity, when Hughes does indeed break cover to denounce the book, the experts think the recluse is so contradictory that no-one initially believes his denials!

There are occasional missteps - it's hard to believe that Irving's lover would describe herself to him as shallow and the film does threaten to overreach itself as it outlines a possible conspiracy with Hughes using the controversy to gain leverage with Nixon, inadvertently precipitating Watergate, but by this point it's possible that everything we see is just a fantasy fuelled by Irving's hubris and overactive imagination. Even a couple of truly terrible bits of back projection, one intentional, one not, seem entirely acceptable in context. Boasting a boxer's nose and an air of self-righteous hunger, Gere gives his best performance since Internal Affairs, while Molina and Stanley Tucci offer very different but complimentary comic performances (the one driven by sweaty desperation, the other by callous arrogance) and Hallström's direction is better than anything he's done in years (there's a particularly great shot late in the film at the moment of Irving's triumph of Hughes' suddenly malignant photo over his shoulder practically willing him on to his self-destruction).

So, is the last third a hoax? Is the whole film? With a delightful lack of irony, Irving has publicly criticized the film, claiming it completely distorts events by making him look dumb and is a complex hoax that trivializes his achievement. And who are we to doubt him?

This is the kind of film that cries out for supplementary material, but sadly all you get is a brief trailer. Still, the film is good enough on its own, and the disc offers a good widescreen transfer.
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on 19 March 2008
Richard Gere gives a good understated performance in this based on real events film. As mentioned elsewhere Gere's character manages to con the world into believing he working with Howard Hughes on his autobiography. He quickly realises that the more outrageous the lies he tells the more people believe him. Most of the fun of the film is seeing this played out. It is saved from tweeness by the slightly darker side in how Gere manipulates those closest to him , his girlfriend and his friend ( Alfred Molina who is turns in a great performance)

So why 3 stars - it just feels like it could have done with some ruthless editing as the last 20 mins seems to drag giving the feeling that the film stumbles to an ending
If you are looking for something a little diffrent to the the usual gun ho hollywood fare then give this a go
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VINE VOICEon 21 February 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Hoax is a film based on the true story of Clifford Irving, who wrote an "autobiography" of eccentric billionaire, Howard Hughes. Irving is a writer whose latest book is rejected by his publishers. Then he gets thrown out of a hotel so that the real Howard Hughes can have the place to himself. From this chance event he gets the idea of writing Hughes autobiography, and convincing the publishers of its authenticity, realising that the reclusive billionaire is unlikely to openly refute his work. Irving (played by Richard Gere) and his friend and researcher Richard Suskind (played by Alfred Molina) get more and more drawn into the roles they have created for themselves.

It's not the best film I've ever seen, but it was watchable, and is based on an interesting true story (although I suspect it's not an entirely accurate portrayal of events). Gere has never been my favourite actor (all the characters he plays seem very similar to me) but I did think he was fairly well suited to this role, although I think the real Irving must have been more cunning than Gere portrays him as being, or he would never have thought of it in the first place. This is a film probably best viewed during a quiet evening at home.
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VINE VOICEon 21 February 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It's nice to see Richard Gere outside of the usual romantic comedy role, and if you're a fan then this is definately worth checking out - it's very much Gere's film and gives him a chance to show off his acting range. However, the film itself isn't that exciting. It's a slow mover, and although the subject matter is quite interesting and amusing, it's not likely to keep the attention of those viewers which need constant stimulation.

Worth renting if you fancy a gentle, pleasant evening of film watching, but if you're after an edge-of-your-set movie then look elsewhere.
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on 11 February 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Based on a true story, Richard Gere plays Clifford Irving an author who is finding it difficult to get published. He thinks that his latest book is going to be a success, but unfortunately he is instead dropped from his publishing deal. With no money and the debts starting to pile up Irving is hit with inspiration whilst away with his friend, researcher and drinking buddy Dick Suskind (Alfred Molina), when they are thrown out of their hotel to allow the elusive Howard Hughes to stay there by himself. Why not write a book about Hughes? He never talks to the press and no one knows anything about him. Irving manages to sell the idea to his publishers, now all he has to do is make the book up and somehow deposit a cheque that is in someone else's name. Can Irving use the Hughes name to make himself rich, or is he being used himself?

`The Hoax' is a great film that is all about characters and relationships. Gere is probably at his best here as the morally ambiguous writer. He does a lot to dispel the image of being an annoying actor as he pulls of the charisma and charm needed for the role to work. Molina is also excellent; he acts as a comedic and moral foil to Gere and gives the film great perspective. The scenes that star the two of them are the best in the film as the confident conman and nervy researcher are great polar opposites.

The sense of place is also portrayed well in the film with director Lasse Hallstrom giving the film the early 70s feel in requires. The use of stock footage in the film means that people who know nothing about the history of the period can still understand what is going on. I was also impressed by the intelligence of the script. `The Hoax' is a well written drama that is both intense and funny, the fact that it is based on real events means that it seems all the more plausible. If you are looking for a clever and funny film that may not be on your radar then try `The Hoax'.
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on 15 February 2008
I'm never quite sure about Richard Gere. His mannerisms never seem to change, regardless of whichever character he is supposed to be portraying. Having said that, perhaps this is the type of film that suits him.

Gere plays Clifford Irving, a pathological liar who scams to write an 'autobiography' of eccentric billionaire, Howard Hughes. Irving becomes so embroiled in his fantasies that he loses sight of reality and ends up hurting the people closest to him. He has the gift of the gab, which rescues him a number of times when placed on the spot by his suspicious publishers.

Despite a good supporting role from Alfred Molina, this film is not in the same league as other fact-based US historical dramas (such as Zodiac or Thirteen Days), but it nicely passes away a quiet evening.
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VINE VOICEon 26 January 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It is the story of a man so desperate to make his name as a writer that he invents a biography of the famous recluse Howard Hughes. The plot is concerned with how his lies begin to unravel as he tries to control his publishers, his wife, his best friend and, most of all, his story. Richard Gere stars and plays against type as a man who completely loses himself to the idea of `celebrity'. Alfred Molina, as usual gives great support as the best friend who finds the lying and deception harder to handle.

It poses an intriguing film where you find yourself wanting Irving (Gere) to succeed in his endless plotting. The film is based somewhat on the true story which lends all the more to the bizarre ideas (phony interviews that deadpan Hughes voice, faked memos from Hughes). This is certainly Halstrom's best film since Chocolat.

Make no mistake, like Chocolat, it's not the sort of film that would win many awards, but it's entertaining Sunday night viewing for those wanting an intriguing, humorous story. It may have been a little long but the story was engrossing enough to keep you gripped to the end.
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on 11 February 2008
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This movie is based on a true story about a failing writer who gets a big scoop; only the scoop is a big lie. The movie is interesting and really quite entertaining to watch; it has a very good plot, and all of the actors are very convincing. The movie also does a good job at showing the deteriorating private lives of the two main characters has the hoax escalates. The one problem I have with this film is that it does seem to drag; it is not a very long film, but it is not exactly edge-of-your-seat stuff. Despite this, I would certainly say that this is worth a watch.
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