The Hoax

The Hoax

DVD Rating: *1/2

Reviewed by: Richard Mellor

Read Val Kermode's film review of The Hoax

Seeing The Hoax for a second time can be a dispiriting experience. While we all know deep down that Clifford Irving’s most audacious of ruses will eventually crumble in on itself, Lasse Hallstrom’s terrifically-paced film – based on a (non-bogus) true story – still comes laced with suspense and intrigue. Just how will Clifford be hoist by his own petard? Will he end up in jail, or dead, or merely penniless? Most importantly, what does fate have in store for his bumbling sidekick, Dick, flawlessly played by Alfred Molina?

Repeat viewings are, of course, devoid of such uncertainties. In the case of The Hoax though, this seems positively cruel; there’s a lot less pleasure in watching Irving’s rise and deserved fall second time around, knowing full well the moral of the story. Gere’s fraudster is also a lot less likeable when seen again, perhaps because we can now can recognise his multiple chances to pull the plug on his fantasy, and spare those around him from despair – particularly his implausibly loyal wife, Andrea (Marcia Gay Harden).

Copy picture

The trappings of Hallstrom’s period piece do translate well to the small screen. He recreates Seventies America, and especially New York, in sparkling detail; only with the slower, home-entertainment viewing can these fully be cherished and dwelt on. Highlights include the magnificent dresses worn by Hope Davis’ publisher, old-style Coca-Cola cans and hideous upholstery. Each time you watch this film, glorious new details leap out and impress.

But what of the DVD package? Well, much like Irving’s heady promises, it is in fact completely hollow. Subtitles and a token trailer are all that’s offered up by the way of extras. It’s a shame; no doubt the process of adapting the film from the real life Irving’s actual, dreamed-up biography of Howard Hughes was an interesting process. It would be great to get the thoughts of the many experienced, quality actors involved – talent such as Julie Delpy, Stanley Tucci and even Eli Wallach.

As it is, there’s nowt - despite early press release indicating goodies to come there is not even a documentary on the reclusive Hughes, whose secrecy seems set to baffle and frustrate even fans of The Hoax. And while it’s peculiarly apt that the DVD’s shine-and-no-substance approach mirrors the bluff of its feature film’s main protagonist, it’s also really disappointing.

Reviewed on: 12 Feb 2008
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The Hoax packshot
A writer creates a media sensation with his fake biography of Howard Hughes.
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Product Code: MP637D

Region: 2

Ratio: 17:9 anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Trailer

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