Film >The Hoax
When in doubt, make it up. For a while, it worked for failed writer Clifford Irving (Richard Gere), who in 1971 bamboozled McGraw-Hill into paying six figures for a bogus Howard Hughes bio. Screenwriter William Wheeler, despite interviewing Irving and basing the screenplay on his 1972 book, admits in press notes that he doesn’t understand his subject. Wheeler winds up adopting Irving’s method, with predictable results. Amidst changed names, fictionalized events and a subplot that (kind of) suggests Irving’s scam as pre-Watergate catalyst, Gere and director Lasse Hallström ultimately explain away Irving’s con as midlife-crisis acting out. Though occasionally amusing, this lie-streaked retelling of a fraud aims not for the meta, but for history-repeating object lesson, explicitly drawing parallels between Irving and Nixon’s cons and our current hoax-based regime. But it all rings hollow, which is what you get when you just make shit up.