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.
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.
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.