Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Hoax (2007)

* * * *

The Hoax is one of a very small group of movies that have very little depth or resonance but is a must-see simply for being a non-stop roller-coaster of entertainment. Based on a book and true story, The Hoax is the story of Clifford Irving, a down-on-his-luck writer who fabricated a mountain of lies to reach the top of the journalism industry in 1971. Irving is portrayed by Richard Gere, who turns in a surprisingly well-rounded performance. Irving is funny, charming, clever, creative, selfish, weak, greedy, devious, sly, obviously a bit crazy, and tremendously fun to watch. His writing partner, Dick Suskind, is played by Alfred Molina, one of the better character-actors in the business. Their friendship and partnership are constantly at edge as the high-stakes of their scheme weigh heavy on their personal lives. The Hoax, like other true stories, attains most of its drawing power from the amazement that something as unlikely and unfathomable as the events that take place actually did occur. To watch Irving and Suskind time and again hang on the fringe of failure and revelation but weasel their way forward in their quest for fame and fortune is enthralling. The supporting cast has no stand-out performances but is strong and creates an appropriate landscape of reality and reason against which the absurd events take place. Lasse Hallstrom, best known for directing the cult-classic What's Eating Gilbert Grape, stylistically presents the events in a fast-paced manner that keeps the audience guessing and at the edge of their seats, and creates the 70s environment of living to excess with a good soundtrack and real film clips. Although it could be said that The Hoax brings light to the inherent greed of both individuals (Irving) to go to such great ends to reach prosperity and of the corporate world (publishers) to be fooled so easily time and again in an effort to make a dollar, the film is much more of a thrill-ride than an expose'. It seems that only in America could something like the Hoax take place, where lies upon lies upon lies somehow begin to blur the scope of reality until something brings the truth into focus. The truth about this film, though, is that it is far from classic cinema, but will appeal to almost all audiences.

Good For: fans of conspiracy films, fans of "based on true stories" movies

Bad For: people who get frustrated with twisting storylines

No comments: