The Hoax

Rated 4.0

Director Lasse Hallström and writer William Wheeler recount the notorious escapade of writer Clifford Irving, who, in 1971, claimed that he had been chosen to write the “authorized autobiography” of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. Wheeler’s script (based on Irving’s clearly self-serving book) is engaging and Hallström’s direction is swift, though they never quite answer the obvious questions: how Irving ever thought he’d get away with it, and why he didn’t just grab the money and skip to Brazil when he had the chance. As Irving, Richard Gere has a field day, giving the performance of his career—ever-devious, charming and unctuous by turns, righteously blustering even as the sweat beads on his brow. Alfred Molina plays Irving’s sad-sack accomplice and Marcia Gay Harden is Irving’s too-trusting wife.