"Ladies and gentleman, by way of introduction, this is a film about trickery, fraud, about lies. Tell it by the fireside or in a marketplace or in a movie, almost any story is almost certainly some kind of lie. But not this time. This is a promise. For the next hour, everything you hear from us is really true and based on solid fact." -Orson Welles in F for Fake
Orson Welles's penultimate film, F for Fake, is all about fraud and those who specialize in it.
This "documentary" concerns Welles himself, famous art forger Elmyr de Hory and his biographer Clifford Irving, who in turn forged the autobiography of Howard Hughes. Welles's use of interviews intercut with on-camera narration from the editing room is inspired and the glimpses of Welles the magician are truly charming. It's almost as if he's invited you over and decided to regale you with stories overheard at a dinner party.
An interesting mix of fact and fiction, the film moves at a brisk pace for the first hour or so, not so much telling a story, instead revealing the many facets of fakery in various forms. The last twenty minutes however seemed to drag on, due mostly to the presence of a staged confrontation between Welles and then partner Oja Kodar which sends an otherwise great film experiment completely off the rails. In fact, I'd go as far to say that this movie would've been much better without the inclusion of Ms. Kodar, as all of her scenes tend to be a chore to get through and stop an otherwise richly entertaining experience right in its tracks.
F for Fake is not a traditional documentary in any way and to be honest I found that to be refreshing. I really liked this movie and if it weren't for the detrimental scenes mentioned earlier, I believe I would have loved it.