F for Fake (1974) - Rotten Tomatoes

F for Fake (1974)

F for Fake



Critic Consensus: F for Fake playfully poses intriguing questions while proving that even Orson Welles' minor works contain their share of masterful moments.

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Movie Info

The final directorial project the legendary Orson Welles completed during his lifetime, F for Fake is less a documentary than an example of cinematic free association on the topic of trickery. Much of the film is in fact drawn from other sources, most notably an unfinished documentary by Francois Reichenbach on the notorious Elmyr de Hory, whose extremely skillful forgeries of famous paintings caused scandals amongst art collectors and experts. In an additional bit of irony, de Hory's interviewer is author Clifford Irving, who became infamous due to a forgery of his own: a falsified autobiography of Howard Hughes. Welles openly re-edits and manipulates this footage, using it as a spine for his own commentary, arguing that there is an extremely close relationship between art and lying, and citing instances from his own career to prove the point. Through a combination of documentary and staged footage, Welles attempts to illustrate the artifice behind all filmmaking, even that of a supposedly non-fiction variety. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Television, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 26, 2005
Saguenay Films


Orson Welles
as Himself
Oja Kodar
as The Girl
François Reichenbach
as Special Participant
Paul Stewart
as Special Participant
Gary Graver
as Special Participant
Peter Bogdanovich
as Special Participant
William Alland
as Special Participant
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for F for Fake

Critic Reviews for F for Fake

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (11)

F For Fake is minor Welles, the master idly tuning his instrument while the concert seems never to start again. But it's engaging and fun, and it's astonishing how easily Welles spins a movie out of next to nothing.

Full Review… | October 11, 2015
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The result is a curious, unsatisfactory pastiche of documentary tidbits acquired from Reichenbach and speculative filler supplied by Welles himself.

Full Review… | October 11, 2015
Washington Post
Top Critic

For all its nods, winks and witty asides, it's a richly personal work, picking over the questions every creative artist must eventually ask: Am I 'for real'? Does it matter? And what is all this work worth, anyway?

Full Review… | October 11, 2015
Time Out
Top Critic

F for Fake is as grand, multitudinous, and original as Welles himself.

Full Review… | October 11, 2015
New Yorker
Top Critic

Welles stretches his material and his legend just about as thin as possible in this tedious treatise on truth and illusion.

Full Review… | October 11, 2015
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

An intriguing, enjoyable look at illusion in general and his own, Clifford Irving's and De Houry's dealing with it in particular.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for F for Fake

Sui generis documentary impregnated by Welles' panache, wit and love for celluloid

Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

A totally unique experience, master director/actor (etc.) Orson Welles creates his late masterpiece with his expose on trickery.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer


A documentary/essay about the art of trickery. Opening with a series of magic tricks, performed by Welles himself, the movie explores two characters who became famous for lying, for tricking others, and by doing it pretty damn well. Very engaging, fun, you can see this as the blue print for many modern documentaries that use a similar style of "free" narrative/performance mode. Movies are a form of fakery after all, Welles is the first one to call himself a charlatan, and with great wit he takes us to this fantastic voyage of illusions, a house of mirrors. What matters is not things being "real" or "fake", but how interesting, appealing and well made they can be.

Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

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