25 August 2012 4:03 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Made in 1973, this was Welles's last completed film as writer-director, though he lived for a further 12 years, appearing in mostly embarrassing movies. It's a documentary essay about fraud and fakes, making extensive use of footage from François Reichenbach's unfinished study of the art forger Elmyr de Hory, a tedious poseur. Reichenbach's film took on especial significance because it featured De Hory's friend Clifford Irving, the novelist who in 1972 became world famous for forging Howard Hughes's autobiography, a story later filmed by Lasse Hallström as The Hoax with Richard Gere as Irving.

Essentially, the amusing, gossamer-thin F for Fake is the old magician's apologia pro vita sua, suggesting everything is a fake and an illusion. At his most suave and mellifluous, the talkshow Prospero is here doing a Rumpelstiltskin act, trying to turn rough horsehair padding into gold. This is especially the case with the two long, pointless sections featuring Oja Kodar, »

- Philip French

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