Stories of deception and lies always make the most compelling viewing, particularly when spiced up with some well-placed humour and on-form acting. 'The Hoax' combines all of these elements in a movie that is entertaining throughout.

Clifford Irving (Gere) was the ultimate opportunist. The charmer knew how to reel people in, convince them of even the most unlikely things and come out smelling of roses himself.

He knew that tycoon Howard Hughes was an eccentric recluse and that this was something that could work in his interest. As a failed novelist, who cannot get his manuscripts published, Irving decides that a change of subject matter is the way to go.

What if he was to write an authorised biography of the fascinating character that was Howard Hughes? Without the permission part, of course. Would anyone dare to question its authenticity? And if they did, how could they prove its fictional nature if Hughes wasn't prepared to speak out?

The ease at which Irving then convinced publishing house McGraw-Hill to sign a deal with him is laughable and sets up a great starting point for the movie. Just how far can you push your luck before it runs out? Stepping in as a hindrance to his major plot is friend and associate Dick Susskind (Molina), who says all the wrong things at the most inopportune moments and threatens to blow their cover time and time again. But every good story needs a fool to make the threat of exposure real.

Based on a true story, 'The Hoax' captures a tale of brazen single-mindedness, telling the story of man who believed he had nothing to lose by taking a chance, and Richard Gere shines as that man. He talks the talk and walks the walk of a man who believes it's all too easy. He feels invincible and nobody around him seems to have the brains to take him down.

It is Gere that makes this movie so enjoyable. He is always at ease with his character and effortlessly rolls back the years for the part, looking and acting every inch the sweet-tongued author, whose loyalty to his subject is unquestionable.

'The Hoax' presents its particular brand of comic drama with subtlety and charm, much like Mr Irving sold his 'fictional' story, and it works for the movie as well as it worked for him, for the most part.

Linda McGee