7.4/10
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24 user 33 critic

The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

A man returns to his home town after serving a prison sentence for homicide, and finds that the details of the crime have been forgotten and replaced with local legends and rumors.

Director:

Hal Hartley

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Adrienne Shelly ... Audry
Robert John Burke ... Josh (as Robert Burke)
Chris Cooke Chris Cooke ... Vic Hugo (as Christopher Cooke)
Julia McNeal Julia McNeal ... Pearl
Katherine Mayfield Katherine Mayfield ... Liz Hugo
Gary Sauer Gary Sauer ... Emmet
Mark Chandler Bailey Mark Chandler Bailey ... Mike (as Mark Bailey)
David Healy David Healy ... Todd Whitbread
Matt Malloy ... Otis: Driver - Bum
Edie Falco ... Jane - The Waitress
Jeff Howard Jeff Howard ... Irate Driver
Kelly Reichardt ... His Wife
Ross Turner Ross Turner ... Their Son
Paul Schulze ... Bill (as Paul Schultze)
Mike Brady Mike Brady ... Bob
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Storyline

After serving time for murder, Josh Hutton returns to his home town where me meets Audry Hugo. No one can remember exactly what Josh did, but they are all wary of him, especially Audry's father. Written by Tom Unger <unger@raindrop.seaslug.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 November 1990 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

A Incrível Verdade See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$75,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$546,541
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Action Features See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Provided the Unbelievable Truth with a name for their band. See more »

Goofs

When Audry and Emmet are walking in the street rite after Audry tells Emmet she does not want to go out with him anymore if you look behind Audry you can see a car approach the corner and a crew member directing the car to turn left so it does not interfere with the shot, the crew member even walks up to the car. See more »

Quotes

Audry: I decided I can have faith in what I can't see.
Josh Hutton: What do you wanna see?
Audry: The world.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Cinefile: Made in the USA (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Cruel Something There
by Paul Cullum and Philip Reed (as Wild Blue Yonder) (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Early Hartley Worth the Effort
5 January 2004 | by gpadilloSee all my reviews

Fraught with over obvious symbolism, Hartley's early feature is nonetheless a joy to watch. Hal here shows us his uncanny ability to cast his characters perfectly came early in his career.

Adrienne Shelley is a near perfect foil to herself, equal parts annoying teen burgeoning in her sexuality (though using sex for several years); obsessed with doom and inspired by idealism gone wrong she is deceptively – and simultaneously – complex and simple. Her Audrey inspires so many levels of symbolism it is almost embarrassingly rich (e.g., her modeling career beginning with photos of her foot – culminating her doing nude (but unseen) work; Manhattan move; Europe trip; her stealing, then sleeping with the mechanics wrench, etc.)

As Josh, Robert Burke gives an absolutely masterful performance. A reformed prisoner/penitent he returns to his home town to face down past demons, accept his lot and begin a new life. Dressed in black, and repeatedly mistaken for a priest, he corrects everyone ("I'm a mechanic"), yet the symbolism is rich: he abstains from alcohol, he practices celibacy (is, in fact a virgin), and seemingly has taken on vows of poverty, and humility as well. The humility seems hardest to swallow seeming, at times, almost false, a pretense. Yet, as we learn more of Josh we see genuineness in his modesty, that his humility is indeed earnest and believable. What seems ironic is the character is fairly forthright in his simplicity, yet so richly drawn it becomes the viewer who wants to make him out as more than what he actually is. A fascinatingly written character, perfectly played.

The scene between Josh and Jane (a wonderful, young Edie Falco . . . "You need a woman not a girl") is hilarious . . . real. But Hartley can't leave it as such and his trick, having the actors repeat the dialogue over-and-over becomes frustratingly "arty" and annoying . . . until again it becomes hilarious. What a terrific sense of bizarre reality this lends the film (like kids in a perpetual "am not"/"are too" argument).

Hartley's weaves all of a small neighborhood's idiosyncrasies into a tapestry of seeming stereotypes but which delves far beneath the surface, the catalyst being that everyone believes they know what the "unbelievable truth" of the title is, yet no two people can agree (including our hero) on what exactly that truth is. A wonderful little movie with some big ideas.


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