Con Man

"OK"

Con Man Review


Documentary filmmaker Jesse Moss was in the presence of greatness when he attended high school in Palo Alto, California some 15 years ago. One of his classmates was a track star of seemingly unending talents, a dynamic young man with a mysterious past and a sparkling future. Unknown to Moss and everyone else, that kid was actually an exceptional impostor in his mid-20s.

Moss's Con Man attempts to track the false and confusing life of this man, a chronic and elaborate liar by the name of James Hogue. While Hogue's exploits -- and motives -- become more intriguing with time, Moss's efforts to chronicle them can leave a curious audience generally unsatisfied.

In the film, Hogue's path is traced by Moss himself as he first recreates past steps, and then embarks on his own personal search for Hogue, a bizarre man whose crowning achievement was lying his way into Princeton by sending them a sparkling application... while serving time in jail. In presenting Hogue's journey, first-time documentary director Moss makes the kind of rookie mistakes one might expect: overusing the same stock footage when he's in a jam, moving the story along with an occasional lack of smoothness, and delivering some items with a little too much gravity.

But Moss does have a clear understanding of, and talent for, suspense, and his ability to reveal Hogue's fascinating timeline of lies is one of his strongest suits. We learn of Hogue's schemes bit by bit, and when Moss goes back to the late '70s to one of the more defining moments in Hogue's life, it reflects the potential strengths of Moss's storytelling. Con Man comes off as a kind of lite documentary version of Catch Me If You Can.

Except that James Hogue never made off with anybody's money, never passed bad checks, and never jet-setted around the globe. So when we finally meet the man on camera, we await a big payoff. Why would he fabricate such stories and pseudonyms? What it is he about? Why did he work so hard when he attended Princeton under a false identity? Unfortunately, Moss doesn't train the focus on Hogue long enough, just teasing viewers with a bit of the power that could have been. The final result is a documentary somewhere between Dateline NBC and Frontline, with Jesse Moss's talents definitely leaning toward the latter.

The DVD includes deleted interviews and an extended audio interrogation with Hogue.

Reviewed at the 2003 Independent Film Festival of Boston.

Don't mess with Utah.



Con Man

Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.