We never establish an emotional connection with Irving. Even though we're caught up in his derring-do as he beguiles entire meeting rooms of jaded publishers and editors, we're kept at a dissatisfying distance from Irving and the movie.
The Hoax never wanders too far from its pitiful but somehow joyously deceitful center, and Gere captures the sheer electricity of a man who, even for only a few moments, seems to have made reality play by his rules.
I kept hankering for the antic joie de vivre of Catch Me if You Can, which wholly gave itself over to what we love about the con men who dare to slough off the daily grind and do it their way. They have style to burn, and they don't give a damn.
It's bracing to see a grand con-man comedy like The Hoax, in which our moral universe is affirmed, and yet the fabled trickster Clifford Irving -- who wrote a fraudulent autobiography of Howard Hughes -- is so darn likable.