Dave White
The Hoax Review

Dave's Rating:

4.5

… smart, morally conflicted, idiosyncratic …

Who's in It: Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis, Julie Delpy

The Basics: This is the almost-true story of how, in 1971, Clifford Irving almost got away with writing a fake biography about legendary rich guy and recluse Howard Hughes, simply by lying to everyone and making lots of phone calls. It was easier to do that sort of thing before the Internet. Ask James Frey. Even the people behind the "J.T. Leroy" phenomenon, a much more complicated and modern literary hoax, got busted eventually. So if you're thinking of conducting one, you probably will get busted, too.

What's the Deal? What's nice about this movie is that it effectively makes you care about a weird, now-fairly-obscure blip on the pop-culture landscape that happened over 30 years ago. Your ticket will be a vote that more smart, morally conflicted, idiosyncratic films like this will come down the road to buffer us a little better from the constant onslaught of mainstream Hollywood boredom.

Dye Your Hair, Change Your Life: Meanwhile, here's the movie that helps transition Gere from his former job of wooing Julia Roberts and shouting at Lou Gossett Jr. and generally being a more suave, less Buddhist version of himself on screen, to doing stuff like dying his gray hair black and becoming a character that's prone to compulsive lying, delusional paranoid fantasies and panic attacks. In other words, someone you don't want to have sex with.

From the Director of Crap Like: Chocolat, Casanova and The Cider House Rules. But somewhere in there, I held out hope that Lasse Hallstrom, who got his American break with the Swedish movie My Life as a Dog and then directed the decent What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, would find his way back from the weird right-turn into middlebrow, Oscar-grubbing territory. This one, with its unrepentant miscreants who just do bad things because they feel like it and need the money, courting disaster and shame every step of the way, is a step forward for Hallstrom into Real Human Being Town.

What's Fake About This Movie About the Faker:
1. The scene where they wait for a helicopter that Irving says contains Howard Hughes. Never happened.
2. The scene where Gere goes to Truman Capote's famous "Black & White Ball." It took place in 1966, not 1971. Clifford wasn't there.
3. Every scene that takes place in America and shows Gere driving around the country to find out information. In real life he was living in Spain and did everything by telephone. That would have made for a weird movie.
4. Irving's accomplice Dick Suskind is shown getting it on with a hooker. Again, never happened.

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