The Hoax 

This is the kind of movie that flops at the box office. Did it even make it to the theater? Maybe, but I don't know for sure, which proves my point.

And yet this true story, starring Richard Gere, is actually a fantastic watch. Gere plays Clifford Irving, a man who, in 1972, nearly pulled the con of the century by releasing a fake autobiography of Howard Hughes. Yes, the same eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes who was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in 2004's The Aviator. The name may have faded from the headlines since his death in 1976, but in his day, Hughes was a very big deal (think DiCaprio times 10, but with details of his life shrouded in mystery).

The story is that Irving's newest book had just been dumped by mega-publisher McGraw-Hill, so he invented the idea that Hughes called him pitching a tell-all biography. Forged documents, bold lies and near-million-dollar checks made Clifford Irving a household name in the early 1970s. And Gere captures his essence perfectly, or so comparisons from 60 Minutes segments (DVD special features) would lead one to believe. Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2) provides quality support as Irving's writing partner.

Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom (An Unfinished Life, Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) continues his recent string of fantastic English-language films with this latest effort. If his name is attached to a title nowadays, it'll probably be a very well-made movie.

The Hoax is an easy watch and falls beautifully into the category of true stories that are far stranger than fiction.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.

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