The Hoax (2007)

Genre(s): Biographical / Comedy / Drama
Miramax || R - 115 minutes - $29.99 || October 16, 2007
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-10-25


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director:
Writer(s): Clifford Irvin (novel); William Wheeler (screenplay)
Cast: Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, Stanley Tucci, Julie Delpy, Eli Wallach


Theatrical Release Date: April 20, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director & Writer Commentary
  • Producers' Commentary
  • Stranger Than Fiction Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Extended Scene
  • Mike Wallace: Reflections of a Con


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

Thanks to Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, there seems to be a renewed interest in the life of Howard Hughes. What makes him so interesting to people is the fact that no one really knew who he was because he was so private. We hear about stories where he is overly paranoid about people and stories about him locking himself in rooms for long periods of time. I think this fascination with Hughes is something that the world still has and will continue to have. In The Hoax, director Lasse Hallstrom tells the real life story of Clifford Irving (Richard Gere) and explores this fascination with Howard Hughes' life in the early 70's. The film focuses on Irving's life as he struggles as a writer looking for a big hit. Irving and his partner Richard Suskind (Alfred Molina) create a scheme to write Hughes' autobiography while they take advantage of the fact that Howard Hughes never made any public appearances and because of that, would not sue them for slander.

The film does a good job for the most part showing Irving and Suskind scheming and creating a whole story around Howard Hughes. We even see scenes where Irving himself poses as Hughes in fake audio interviews. Both Richard Gere and Alfred Molina do a fine job of carrying the film and giving very good performances. Over the course of the film, we see these two characters go from nothing to national celebrities and then to national outcasts. The film has a strong supporting cast with Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, Eli Wallach, Stanley Tucci and Julie Delpy.

Veteran Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom does a good job of keeping the story interesting over the 115 minute running time. What slowed the film down are the several subplots involving Clifford Irving; specifically his relationship with Delpy's character Nina Van Pallandt. We don't really get too much back story on their relationship and ultimately, I didn't really care to know about it either. I thought Irving's relationship with his wife (Marcia Gay Harden's character) was enough to show that this man was damaging the lives of those he loved.

I felt that Irving's story was something very interesting and I think that Hallstrom only tapped into the bare essentials of this story rather than exploring other elements. I actually found Clifford Irving's story much more fascinating than Frank Abagnale's story, which was covered in the film Catch Me If You Can. The only problem is the fact that Catch Me If You Can's execution in telling the story was much stronger because of its focus and attention to detail whereas Hallstrom only covered the "cliff notes" version of Irving's experience. I also believe that casting of Richard Gere hurt the film as well. Gere is not really a charismatic actor at all though he might think he is. Since Gere is the lead, I believe this aspect does hurt the film quite a bit. Gere doesn't ever quite bring Irving to life and create that aura that made people believe all these lies he told them. Still, the film is fun to watch because of the fact that the real Clifford Irving was able to con so many people (including Richard Nixon) into thinking that he actually knew and was actively communicating with Howard Hughes.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Stranger Than Fiction is a 9 minute behind the scenes look at the real Clifford Iriving and his infamous hoax. The cast and crew are interviewed about the film as well as what attracted them to the script. We also see some real footage of Clifford Irving's interview with Mike Wallace.

The DVD also includes a set of 6 deleted scenes that run about 13 minutes total. Each scene has a commentary by director Lasse Hallstrom and writer William Wheeler. Both Wheeler and Hallstrom are very candid in their commentary as they talk about why each scene was left out.

"Business As Pleasure" is a 6 minute extended scene that shows more of how Clifford Irving and Richard Suskind tricked so many people into believing their scheme. The film already had numerous scenes showing this so it was a smart move to take this scene out to avoid too much redundancy.

The DVD includes 2 Audio Commentary tracks. The first is by Lasse Hallstrom and William Wheeler and the second one is by producers Leslie Holleran and Joshua D. Maurer. The two tracks are interesting to listen to because of the fact that one if from the perspective of a director and writer while the second one is from the perspective of two producers. The commentaries do overlap in terms of covering the same topics but they also discuss more about the real Clifford Irving's life and ability to tell lies.

Mike Wallace: Reflections of a Con is a look at how Clifford Irving was able to deceive Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes into believing his story. Wallace discusses the fact that the country was so fascinated with Howard Hughes that they would have believed anything Irving would have said. I found this extra to be the most interesting but unfortunately it only ran 4 minutes.

Finally, the DVD includes a trailer gallery for National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The Invisible, Eagle vs. Shark, Becoming Jane, Golden Door and No Country for Old Men.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The DVD is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen for its video transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound with an option in Spanish for its audio transfer. Both the video and audio displayed no noticeable errors and were crisp on both ends.



.::OVERALL::.

Overall the DVD package was put together fairly well. I would have liked to see more featurettes or more footage into the real life of Clifford Irving. Fans of Catch Me If You Can or even The Aviator should definitely check out the film. Though the film has many flaws, the film is still intriguing to watch because of the fact that Clifford Irving was able to con so many people into believing his hoax.