Gere snags meaty role in another Hughes-related biopic

The Hoax

on April 06, 2007 by Richard Mowe
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Inspired by true events in the life of Clifford Irving, the writer who nearly pulled off one of the most audacious media scams in history, Lasse Hallstrom's version of the proceedings gives Richard Gere one of his best roles in years. The actor rallies to the challenge of playing the man who suggested his "autobiography" of Howard Hughes was based on in-person interviews with the reclusive billionaire, claims which were in fact completely bogus.

Gere reveals hidden talents, asserting himself with a confident swagger as the Machiavellian figure whose charisma and plausibility pull others along in his wake, among them the eminent New York publishers McGraw Hill as well as Life Magazine, which paid huge sums of money to publish extracts. Irving is seen pitching what at the time must have sounded like the book-industry coup of the decade: an authorized biography of Hughes that the mega-rich recluse had allegedly asked Irving to write on the condition that the project remain secret until publication. For the most part, William Wheeler's strong screenplay sticks to the facts, only inventing a couple of episodes for cinematic effect.

Matching Gere's deft playing is Alfred Molina as his quiet and nervy sidekick Richard Suskind, whose unswerving loyalty knows few bounds -- even when Hughes eventually goes public to denounce them. Hope Davis and Stanley Tucci give enjoyable supporting performances as, respectively, Irving's editor and Life Magazine supremo Shelton Fisher.

The Hoax is the second major film in two years dealing with Hughes after 2004's The Aviator, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It also shares similarities to Colour Me Kubrick, starring John Malkovich as another imposter who pretended to be the secretive director. Cinema, of course, is the perfect medium in which to explore the dark arts of reality and illusion. Distributor: Miramax
Cast: Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, Marcia Gay Harden, Stanley Tucci and Hope Davis
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Screenwriter: William Wheeler
Producers: Mark Gordon, Betsy Beers, Leslie Holleran, Joshua D. Maurer and Bob Yari
Genre: Drama
Rating: R for language
Running time: 115 min.
Release date: April 6, 2007 ltd, April 13 exp

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