The Hoax

Todd Hertz (CT Movies) calls The Hoax “a mix of Catch Me If You Can, Shattered Glass, and A Beautiful Mind. But unlike the characters from those better films, there’s nothing redeeming about [the central character]. I enjoy ‘spiral into madness’ movies, but this one can feel unsettling and smarmy because it’s not a good man spiraling out of control until he realizes what he’s done. Instead, you’re merely watching a bad man get worse — with no eventual lesson learned or expression of contrition.” He does, however, praise Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, and director Lasse Hallström.

Harry Forbes of CNS says it “sometimes resembles George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind in its truth-vs.-reality structure, and is sometimes confusing. The film doesn’t glamorize Irving’s scheme … but rather shows the extreme mental anguish Irving — who spent two and a half years in prison — brought on himself.”

Crosswalk’s Lisa Rice says, “Though the plot is mildly interesting and the filmmakers do a good job of creating tension, The Hoax leaves audiences with a slimy feeling and a cynical assurance that gifted liars and powerful billionaires do win out in the end.

The Rotten Tomatoes gang are celebrating it as the best Hallstrom film in a while.

But Jonathan Rosenbaum calls it “a quintessential mainstream doorstop deceptively marketed as an art movie.” To elaborate, he says, “Essentially the same story is recounted, far more accurately as well as meaningfully, in Orson Welles’s F for Fake (1974), where it delivers a radical lesson about both the speciousness of punditry and media expertise and the complicity of the audience in most hoaxes. The cynical postmodernist lessons of The Hoax are quite different: that shallow media types … are dying to be fooled, that all of us are hustlers, and that none of us really knows the truth anyway.”

So… if Rosenbaum thinks so little of the film, why does his review show up as a positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Hmmmm.