F for Fake

Welles's last completed film is the magic trick of a self-described charlatan. Through editorial sleight of hand—blink and you miss the transitions—it pieces together overlapping portraits of art forger Elmyr de Hory; his biographer Clifford Irving, faker of an “authorized” life of Howard Hughes; Hughes, Picasso, and Welles himself. A loose network of coincidences, both actual and fictional, becomes the outline for an essay on the relationship between art and illusion, talent and fakery, stories and lies, with extra jabs at “experts” as arbiters of value. With its jaunty montage and carnivalesque music by Michel Legrand, the movie is both rompish and faintly melancholy as Welles reflects on his own career, a history of half-fulfilled ambitions as grand as a cathedral and as playfully trivial as a cheap sideshow.
—Juliet Clark

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