The Hoax

The Hoax (2006)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, Stanley Tucci
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Deleted Scenes, Extended Scene, Featurettes

Swedish filmmaker Lasse Halström is a man of many talents. As producer, writer and director he covered everything from pop music videos and children's movies all the way to impressive dramas like "What's Eating Gilbert Grape." With "The Hoax" he tries his hand at a solid satire based on a real story, and succeeds all the way.

Clifford Irving (Richard Gere) is a novelist who has trouble getting his books published in the early 1970s. Not that they are bad, there's simply too much politicking going on within the industry for him to finally get a shot at the bestseller lists. Desperate now he tries to find a new project that would guarantee him the big seller and at that moment he has a brilliant idea.

He decides to write the official biography of billionaire Howard Hughes. It is huge deal because Howard Hughes is not only regarded as a genius, but also known for being one of the most eccentric people on the planet and one of the most reclusive men imaginable. To write the official biography means Irving is essentially becoming the mouthpiece of Hughes. The only problem is that Hughes doesn't know about the biography – nor does he know Clifford Irving. It is all just a hoax. Clifford's scheme designed to draw huge advance checks out of McGraw-Hill publishing house and write a book that will be the biggest seller of the century.

When Hughes official spokespeople begin denying the official status of the project, Clifford's house of cards is close to collapsing but over and over again he manages to save the moment with a brilliant idea and the help of his invaluable assistant and friend, Dick Suskind (Alfred Molina). Getting more and more daring and outlandish in his requests, Clifford truly manages to make everyone believe that he is indeed the confidante of Howard Hughes and that all the hoo-hah around the biography is designed to serve a political scheme as well as media awareness.

Adam Wheeler's marvelous screenplay combined with Halström's masterful direction weave a movie that is not only funny and entertaining but also full of surprises, emotion and depth. Around ever bend lies another twist that requires Clifford to react to and putting into cinematic action is vividly capturing the viewer, making the entire story so much larger than life – just like the real life sensation was at the time.

Richard Gere does a marvelous job as Clifford Irving. Vulnerable at first and then rising to the occasion like there is no tomorrow, he pulls off the role with such intensity sometimes that the inner tension and struggle of the real Irving becomes absolutely palpable.
Alfred Molina's bumbling portrayal of Irving's friend Suskind also adds to the charm and magic of the film. He is the one who brings reality back to the madness and illusion that Irving is creating around them. He is the character the viewer probably roots the most for as he is more a victim of circumstance that we want to see come out of it all unscathed.
The cast is supplemented wonderfully by Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, Stanley Tucci and Eli Wallach in a small role. They all help to bring this world to life with their own little touches and performances.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment is presenting "The Hoax" in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio on this DVD in a transfer that is absolutely clean and clear. Devoid of any blemishes or grain, the movie nicely manages to capture the look and feel of the 70s by also using archival footage of then-president Nixon and other events. Also the color palette perfectly represents the taste and look of the period, firmly rooting the film in its time. Color reproduction is very good and with its deep, solid black levels the image has good visual depth and shadows that never lose theitr definition. No edge-enhancement mars the picture either, making for a solid presentation with sharp unexaggerated edges.

The film is supplemented by a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track that is balanced and makes good use of the surround channels. Whether it's the music, the dialogues or the sound effects, everything ties together neatly for a pleasant experience.

Tow commentary tracks are included on the release. The first one features director Lasse Halström and writer William Wheeler as they discuss the movie in more detail. It is a rich and informative track that adds a lot of additional detail to the small things in the film. The second track features producers Leslie Holleran and Joshua Maurer as they discuss the making of the project.

An extended scene is also included on the disc, combined with a selection of deleted scenes, each offering an optional commentary by Lasse Halström.

"Reflections on a Con" is look at the event through the eyes of investigative journalist Mike Wallace, while "Stranger Than Fiction" is an entertaining making of featurette that will take you behind the scenes of the movie while also offering up nice bits and pieces by the participants.

"The Hoax" is an exceedingly entertaining satire that has bite in every frame. Handled, executed and performed with bravado, the film never lacks and constantly offers up new twists, making for a sensationally fun experience. Put this DVD on your shopping list because you don't want to miss this.