Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & The Hoax & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hen Clifford Irving (Richard Gere) is told McGraw-Hill wants to publish his novel -- that the read-through by the editor of Life magazine is just a formality -- he goes out and buys a Benz. When the editor calls him a "two-bit Salinger" and the deal with McGraw-Hill falls through, he doesn't return the car. He keeps driving it around until he figures out his next play. Clifford Irving wants desperately to be wealthy, though he's too good a yarn-spinner to ever let on that wealth might be his primary ambition. No, to the outside world his reputation and his art are his chief concerns.





The Hoax is set amid an early-'70s New York literary scene that seems well into Roman decline. They've got nothing but two-bit Salingers left, and still Irving is an outsider. He needs money in the short term, but he couldn't get his publisher to buy a finished novel. There's no chance they'd give him an advance for an unfinished one. He can get nothing from these people on the strength of his own reputation, so he decides to leverage someone else's, forging handwritten letters and telling McGraw-Hill he is Howard Hughes' authorized autobiographer.


He isn't, of course. By 1970, Hughes hadn't spoken to anyone in the media for years. He certainly didn't reach out to Irving. But Clifford regards Hughes' paranoia and reclusiveness as assets more than liabilities in recounting Hughes' story.





The ruse works, ultimately, and Irving, along with a children's book author named Richard Suskind (Alfred Molina) as his lead researcher, sets about making up Howard Hughes' life. A couple of early breaks allow Irving to settle in to what he thinks is Hughes' psyche. He tapes conversations of himself play-acting the billionaire, mimicking his speech patterns, his colloquialisms and his tactical insights. These prove to be revelatory moments in director Lasse Hallstrom's film. We see Gere (and through, him, Irving) begin as an outsider gazing upon Hughes' strange world. Gradually, Gere becomes both Irving and Hughes, his mannerisms and posture shifting subtly as he first talks, then orates into the cheap microphone.





It's a brilliant role for Gere, whose Irving is, at once, a virtuosic creator of characters and a hopeless, insecure fraud who stitches together the missing years of Hughes' life with bits and pieces of his own and others. The myth Irving makes, though, gradually becomes his cunning. Irving eventually takes the tactics and insights he's given his fake Hughes and adopts them as his own. More important, Irving adopts Hughes' character -- the one he's cobbled together from Senate hearings, memoirs and hearsay -- as a kind of mentor. The deeper into his lie he gets, the more brazen he is -- and, interestingly, the more successful.





Clifford Irving became so confident in telling the biggest lie in modern memory that he never thought he might be touching on bits of the truth. Irving's Hughes becomes all about the charade itself, not about what truths of Hughes' character the novelist may have uncovered in creating it. That, suggests Hallstrom's idea-rich but uneven film, is what ultimately doomed him. (Rated R)

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Pacifying the Future
  • Pacifying the Future

    A local homebuilder has embraced a design strategy that could be the future of buildings
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Surge Protectors
  • Surge Protectors

    Solar and wind power need batteries to be reliable; Demand Energy's software makes those batteries more efficient
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Innovation Station
  • Innovation Station

    Toolbox is a space for innovative products to grow
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Think & Drink: "Writing in the Margins: Race in Literature"

Think & Drink: "Writing in the Margins: Race in Literature" @ Lindaman's

Tue., April 28, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Restore the Honesty

    Re-establishing trust with the public will require courage on the part of our elected officials
    • Apr 8, 2015
  • Don't Test Me

    The Smarter Balanced standardized test has sparked a rebellion in Western Washington — and it's spreading
    • Apr 15, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation