The Hoax

As Orson Welles demonstrated in F for Fake (1974), the true story of novelist Clifford Irving, who sold a fraudulent autobiography of Howard Hughes to McGraw-Hill for a fortune, is a classic tale of consummate con artistry. So it’s pretty perverse for William Wheeler, who scripted this feature, to get most of the facts wrong, inflating details that don’t need any spin. (As Irving himself remarked, You could call it a hoax about a hoax.) Director Lasse Hallstrom does an OK job with this dubious property; Richard Gere is less charismatic than Irving and Alfred Molina turns Irving’s assistant into a buffoon, but the secondary cast (Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, Stanley Tucci, Julie Delpy, Eli Wallach) is fun to watch. R, 115 min. (JR)

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