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"The Unbelievable Truth" is a funny and often beautiful film that seeks
to find the sweet and humorous within the darkest of subject matter. At
times it is darkly comic and borderline cynical, while at others it is
extraordinarily romantic and melodramatic. These two tones do not clash
and conflict like one would expect, instead they both morph into one
another- showcasing the ups and downs of life. During a very dramatic
scene, writer-director Hal Hartley will sneak in a hilarious moment or
line and masterfully weave it into the moment in such a way that it
feels natural rather than rough.
For a film shot on such a low budget, it is highly impressive in almost every conceivable manner. However, it naturally is littered with flaws that distracted me from the movie watching experience. The sound design can be awful at times because of the sometimes constant cutting in and out of audio-reminiscent of the infamous "Birdemic" (although it isn't nearly as bad or as noticeable). Also, while some of the performances are pretty great and, at times, hilarious, some of them are overly wooden and annoying. It also feels as if its trying a little too hard to be quirky and different at times, plus its got some pacing issues and felt a lot longer than 90 minutes to me, which is only a minor complaint in this case because what was going on during those 90 minutes was fascinating.
Since this movie is so beautiful and tender in its humor and romance, I recommend it for most audiences who can handle a slightly slower and more "artsy" little movie.
Usually, some films tends to create drama, and through the script and
the music is enhanced and magnified. In this movie, is exactly the
opposite: a story that could have been a far-fetched drama, becomes as
if by magic, in something light, and stripped of the the tragic and
In some characters can be seen a decrease of identification with their own feelings, which is transformed into understanding, acceptance, forgiveness. This attitude is so rare in real life, that the movie takes on a surreal tinge.
In the end, as in some other (few) movies, there is no good and bad .... just humans.
A beautiful and unusual view of human relationships, in which everything could be simpler.
7.5 / 10
Long Island auteur Hal Hartley writes, directs, and co-produces his
first feature film. His second, "Trust," has more polish and a better
reputation, but "The Unbelievable Truth" has plenty to recommend it.
Hartley came onto the scene as kind of a Generation X independent film
voice, and while the acting quality in this feature debut is more
uneven than in subsequent efforts, his almost surreal approach to
dialogue, situations, and characterization is intact right out of the
The story is of a man who comes back to his hometown after years in prison, and the young girl he meets once he gets there. As in "Trust," Hartley uses coincidences to underline the intersecting lives and fates of his characters, and his characterization emphasizes the random way in which so many of us foolishly let our hearts lead us around rather than our heads...although ultimately the day belongs to those who are able to conquer this tendency.
While Hartley forcefully instructs his actors to play their lines totally deadpan as much as possible, the situations and character reactions lead to lots of uproarious laughs that will not be evident to many viewers if they're expecting sitcom-type humor, and the way his plots twist is a joy. For the sophisticated movie fan, Hartley's films are extremely interesting and a terrific exercise in watching a true original at work.
The movie begins when Josh is walking on the road, waiting for a lift.
He was offered lift by some people, but kicked out when the learn that
Josh is coming from a prison. Josh killed his girl friend in drink and
drive. Later he visits her father and he was killed during their fight.
Audry is a confused teenager. Just waiting for the end of the world. Josh gets his job as a mechanic in Audry's father's garage.
Hal Hartley is always good in presenting his simple but beautiful films. A great director. This movie was filmed in just 11 days.
A must watch. highly recommended.
"The world's not going to end when so many people are making so much money!" says a single-minded, suburban blue-collar father to his nihilistic, fashion-model daughter, who would rather contemplate Armageddon than pursue a higher education. The emotional toll of such misplaced priorities is stylishly satirized in director Hal Hartley's debut feature, a small town mock-Gothic parody of skewed personal relationships in the money-hungry 1980s. The setting is ostensibly somewhere on Long Island, but from Hartley's perspective it all takes place in a slightly off-kilter universe, tracing the ripple effect caused by the return home of a handsome, taciturn ex-convict (and mass murderer?) who admits to no ambitions other than the Tao of auto mechanics, the discipline of celibacy, and a profound interest in the life of George Washington. It all adds up to nothing more than a deadpan shaggy dog joke, never going anywhere in particular but finally arriving at just the right destination, with help from some crisscrossing, crazy-yet-formal dialogue reminiscent at times of a Preston Sturges script adapted by Jim Jarmusch.
I first saw this movie when I was 22 and I thought it was fantastic. I have seen it several times since then and each time I enjoy it but I don't have the enthusiasm that I once had. That might be, because every Hal Hartley movie I have seen since (three others) is exactly the same in dialogue, acting and direction. But enough on the negative. The positive - the cast: Robert Burke, Adrienne Shelley and the rest do a great job. I really enjoyed the dialogue, there doesn't seem to be a wasted word and all of the push fighting. How come Seagal doesn't try that? So, in summary, this is the best Hartley film so far.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I didn't know anything about this film before finding it listed in the book of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, it was rated rather average by critics, but I was hoping it would deserve the book placing, from director Hal Hartley (Trust). Basically Josh Hutton (Robert Burke) has been released from prison, having served time for murder, and he returns to his home town in Long Island, where no-one is sure about the details of his crime, whether the rumours are exaggerated, but they are certainly wary of him. Audry Hugo (Waitress actress and director Adrienne Shelly) lives in the town and already has a boyfriend in high school, but she soon meets Josh, dumps her boyfriend, and starts seeing him as her new mystery man, ignoring the tale tales of his manslaughter, he also finds himself a job as a mechanic working for Audry's father Vic (Chris Cooke). The relationship between them is anything but normal, not just because of Josh's crime being the talk of the town, but because Audry is a successful and sought after fashion model, and also she has high paranoia about big issues, such as the nuclear war and a forthcoming apocalypse, and in the end it is her modelling and travelling to New York that will ultimately break them up. Also starring Julia McNeal as Pearl, Katherine Mayfield as Liz Hugo, Gary Sauer as Emmet, Mark Bailey as Mike, David Healy as Todd Whitbread, Matt Malloy as Otis and Edie Falco as Jane - The Waitress. Burke is pretty good being mysterious, Shelly is interesting as the dissatisfied and odd girl, and together their on screen relationship plays out oddly but is part of what keeps you watching, I didn't find myself laughing all that much, I think it was the eccentric characters and peculiar conversations that kept me going until the end, an alright comedy drama. Worth watching!
Josh Hutton (Robert John Burke) leaves prison and returns into town.
Pearl is shocked by his return. Audry Hugo (Adrienne Shelly) is a
depressed cynical teen. She is accepted into Harvard but doesn't see
the point of going. Her boyfriend is callous to her concerns. She
suggests a mechanics job at her dad's garage to Hutton. Everybody
starts to speculate what he actually did.
Hal Hartley has written some mannered and artificial dead pan humor. I actually like that but it has to be delivered expertly. The delivery is lacking from most of these actors and the directing is not quite there. I can see good potential for something great. Adrienne is not really young enough for the teen role. Her character could have been written as a twenty something. Overall, this is an interesting indie that could have been more compelling.
Dude, thats the point.
Hartley throws every movie cliché in the book at this one and tips his hat to numerous other films in the process. I've only seen one other of his films (Book of Life) but you can see how he went down the formalism / "exploring the limits of the medium" route in more sophisticated ways.
My favourite bit was when he's telling the sad story and his friend is playing all the usual cheesy soundtrack notes as he goes along. Very funny
Get a load of friends round and have a good laugh. Matt Page
So bad it moved me to write my first IMDb review.
There are plenty of talented amateur film makers, actors and directors out there, none of them were involved in this film. To say that the horribly stiff acting and poor writing and screen play is a "edgy style" that you don't get unless your hip is just a lazy cop-out. Hal Hartley is not a film maker, he's a dude with a camera and some friends wasting time. There have been much better high school plays. There really was no reason to make or see this movie, none.
In the future I'll be more careful when choosing movies to watch based on IMDb ratings, especially those with less than a few thousand votes (just about all of Hal Hartley's movies). I should have read all of the reviews, not just the ones written by the cast and their friends.
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