reviewed by Misael Soto
Not only does he fool one of the biggest publishing companies in the country into giving him one million dollars for the unpublished biography of Howard Hughes without ever having met the eccentric billionaire, but Irving very nearly gets away with it. And not only is it the exciting story that kept my attention but also its very real main characters and the problems they face throughout the entire. In some of the most fascinating scenes in the film Irving, at one point, becomes obsessed with the details of his scheme, nearly as fanatical as Hughes himself. All of this attention of plot is great but it’s this film’s attention to meaning that sets it apart.
Putting it frankly Irving, portrayed by Gere in his best ever performance, represents our current president who through clever lies and charisma has gained power and money almost instantly. Irving is irrationally power hungry and will do anything to keep his con afloat. The only problem is that his power is gained through and by using others, an empty form of power that can only be sustained by more and more lies and quickly fizzles away as suddenly as it was bestowed. Hallström and writer William Wheeler have constructed an extremely clever and well-paced script.
And yet, a carefully crafted script and thought provoking social commentary aren't all you need for a great film. You also need great performances, which this film has; Gere is a bit better than adequate as Irving (the portions when he very nearly goes mad are near brilliance) while Alfred Molina is charming as his bubbling sidekick. But you also need two things The Hoax does not attain: great cinematography (a certain sixth sense for imaginative and effective camera work) as well as an original plot set up. Instead we are given more of the same: typically "safe" and merely sufficient cinematography and your average movie-biography plot right down to the ridiculously overused flash forward opening sequence which we eventually run into later on in the film.
So, while not wholly original, The Hoax is a really good film. It’s one worth watching if not for its fascinating true story then for its thought provoking, nearly caustic message. Oddly enough for such a biting critique of our times, The Hoax ends on a rather positive note. Even the most morally lost among us can change and/or learn their lesson. The Stones say it best in their song which closes the film, "You can't always get what you want . . . but if you try some times you just might find you get what you need."
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
FLIXSTER PROFILE for The Hoax
Misael's Flixster Profile