Richard Gere nails the role of duplicitious author Clifford Irving in Lasse Hallstrom's The Hoax.
Irving almost had the media convinced that his "autobiography" of the germophobe, reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes was from his own interviews.
Gere has that swagger and zestful charisma he showed as the dapper attorney Billy Flynn in Chicago. The confidence in exacting the talents of a man is seen in his efforts to draw in a large windfall from the likes of Life Magazine or a major publishing firm like McGraw Hill.
The inviting screenplay by William Wheeler of acting like an imposter has the hush-hush interaction supposedly approved by Hughes to stay that way until publication. Of course, the fact-based tale dramatizes what Irving was trying to do, with some creation of events which probably never occurred.
Opposite the sharp Gere is Irving's low-key, edgy cohort Richard Suskind done very efficiently by Alfred Molina (the mayor in Hallstrom's flavorful Chocolat). Spry support comes from Hope Davis and Stanley Tucci, respectively, as Irving's editor and Shelton Fisher, a bigwig of Life Magazine.
Maybe The Hoax will only persuade a select audience to see how far pretending can go in a dark spin on reality, even if it unswervingly soars in a different way than The Aviator, the truncated biopic of the high-minded Hughes. But, this related offering, which has the feel of the 70's pictures helmed by the likes of Sidney Lumet, is hardly bogus as Gere colors a schemer with audacious, larcenous delight.