Unbelievable Truth

Unbelievable Truth

Director: Hal Hartley

Cast: Adrienne Shelly, Robert John Burke, Chris Cooke

     
 

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Writer-director Hal Hartley's first feature -- shot in less than 12 days in his backyard for a mere $200,000 -- is a dry and dark comedy about the dangerous undercurrents that exist below the surface of normal middle class existence. Over the credits, Josh (Robert Burke), a man garbed in black, is seen hitch-hiking back to his Long Island home. People ask him, "Are

Overview

Writer-director Hal Hartley's first feature -- shot in less than 12 days in his backyard for a mere $200,000 -- is a dry and dark comedy about the dangerous undercurrents that exist below the surface of normal middle class existence. Over the credits, Josh (Robert Burke), a man garbed in black, is seen hitch-hiking back to his Long Island home. People ask him, "Are you a priest?" and Josh responds, "No. I'm a mechanic." Back in Long Island in the town of Lindenhurst, beautiful and somber 17-year-old Audry (Adrienne Shelly) is busy worrying about the forthcoming apocalypse. Josh arrives in Lindenhurst and is hired by Audry's father (Chris Cooke) as a mechanic at his garage. But Audry's father worries about him, particularly when he falls in love with Audry. Her father's problems compound when Audry dumps her old boyfriend and rejects an invitation to attend Harvard. The whole town is now gossiping about Audry's new boyfriend, with rumors spreading that Josh is a mass murderer who killed two members of the family of local waitress Pearl (Julia McNeal). Pearl tells Audry, "He seems like a nice man." Audry responds, "Even though he killed your father and your sister?" Audry finally makes her father happy when she tells him she won't see Josh again, but dad's relief is short-lived when Audry informs him she's moving to New York to become an underwear model.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
This modestly produced black comedy, written and directed by indie filmmaker Hal Hartley (Trust), is a self-consciously arch but glibly entertaining variation on the middle-class melodramas made in the '50s by such directors as Douglas Sirk. The Unbelievable Truth takes place in a small Long Island town where a vaguely dissatisfied young woman (played by Adrienne Shelly, Hartley's favorite ingenue) develops a crush on a newly arrived older man with a suspicious past. Robert Burke is suitably enigmatic as the stranger, an ex-con rumored to have committed murder. Hartley seems to be emulating David Lynch's Twin Peaks in establishing a seemingly normal, middle-class community rife with guilty secrets, adulterous affairs, and shady business deals; a suburb that looks pleasant enough, but where all the characters seem to exist in a state of perpetually heightened anxiety. After establishing them as "ordinary," Hartley lets them meander into absurd situations that play out with deadpan, tongue-in-cheek humor. The writer-director discusses his techniques in a commentary for the DVD.
All Movie Guide - Andrea LeVasseur
The dark comedy The Unbelievable Truth, Hal Hartley's low-budget debut feature, would set the tone for the next decade of this director's filmmaking style. Rapid-paced and monotone, the witty deadpan dialogue is the high point of this tale of an ex-con meeting a depressed teenager. While exposing the workaday eccentricities of Long Island townsfolk, Hartley reveals an underlying dark side to seemingly average characters. The close-knit cast and crew, the simple yet effective cinematography, and the extra short shooting schedule (less than two weeks) make this novice effort a touchstone of independent cinema. Adrienne Shelly is well cast as the obsessive Audry, giving a thoughtful performance to what could have been an angsty-teen stereotype role, and Robert Burke is also remarkable, fueling his character with sex appeal as the mysterious Josh. Erratic side characters flesh out the small town with understated grace, and the character pairings at the mechanic's shop make for some seriously dry comedy. While the story line could be termed a soap opera, Hartley infuses enough originality and depth to make it both plausible and compelling.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/14/2013
UPC:
0887090060301
Original Release:
1990
Rating:
R
Source:
Olive Films
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:30:00
Sales rank:
39,523

Special Features

Tut & Its Consequences making of The Unbelievable Truth; Opera No. 1-short film written & directed by Hal Hartley with Adrienne Shelly & Parker Posey

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Adrienne Shelly Audry Hugo
Robert John Burke Josh Hutton
Chris Cooke Vic Hugo
Julia McNeal Pearl
Gary Sauer Emmet
Mark Bailey Mike
Katherine Mayfield Liz Hugo
Jeffrey Howard Irate Driver
David Healy Todd Whitbread
Matt Malloy Otis
Kelly Reichardt His Wife
Ross Turner Their Son
Paul Schulze Bill
Mike Brady Bob
Tom Thon News Vendor
Mary Flynn Girl at Counter
Edie Falco Jane (The Waitress)
Bill Sage Gus

Technical Credits
Hal Hartley Director,Co-producer,Editor,Screenwriter
Jerome Brownstein Executive Producer
Judy Chin Makeup
Jim Coleman Score Composer
Carla Gerona Production Designer
Bob Gosse Production Manager
Brothers Kendall Score Composer
Kelly Reichardt Costumes/Costume Designer
Michael Spiller Cinematographer
Sarah Stollman Set Decoration/Design
Bruce Weiss Co-producer
Wild Blue Yonder Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Unbelievable Truth
1. Opening Credits [:00]
2. Brink Of Extinction [8:20]
3. I Don't Trust Anyone [6:54]
4. The Misanthrope [8:44]
5. Met A Man Yesterday [10:00]
6. What Should I Call You? [12:04]
7. I Have Your Wrench [6:46]
8. Maybe Two Months Later [8:27]
9. Everybody Drinks [7:31]
10. Let's Go To My House [7:39]
11. We Had An Understanding [8:16]
12. End Credits [3:24]
13. Chapter 13 [2:12]

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