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The Unbelievable Truth DVD Review

by Luke Ryan Baldock

The Unbelievable Truth DVD ReviewDirector: Hal Hartley

Starring: Adrienne Shelly, Robert John Burke, Chris Cooke, Julia McNeal, Katherine Mayfield, Gary Sauer, Mark Chandler Bailey, David Healy, Matt Malloy,

Running Time: 86 Minutes

Certificate: 15

Starting with Hal Hartley’s 1994 film AMATEUR may not be the best way to approach the director’s work. Released earlier this month, AMATEUR wasn’t exactly an accommodating film, and with a writer/director of such uniqueness, perhaps an earlier work provides a better gateway into Hartley’s work. This is most certainly the case with THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH, Hartley’s similarly offbeat film from 1988.

Josh (Burke) is a man recently released from prison, returning home to set up his life. His introduction is quite the humorous affair as he hitches a lift home, only to be thrown out with his blunt honesty of just having finished a turn inside. From the early moments of the film, we are made aware of Hartley’s peculiar dialogue. Characters love to play with words in Hartley’s scripts, and they also use a lot of repetition, evident in one scene which will convince some viewers that their DVD is jumping. This dialogue is hard to deliver, there’s no doubt about that, but the cast of THE UNBELIEAVBLE TRUTH, especially leads Shelly, Burke and Cooke, seem to be naturals. Unlike AMATEUR, the words flow freely from their lips and aren’t forced out with a lack of conviction.

This delivery is most important, as the comedy is heavily reliant on it. The humour is a much needed ice-breaker between the audience and characters. Characters are somewhat of an enigma to begin with, as we are introduced to rumours before facts. It gives a real sense of the difficult community as we are told possibly fabricated tales of Josh’s past and misdemeanours. The sense of mystery keeps the film interesting, especially since there isn’t a solid central plot. Josh makes friends with a local girl, Audry (Shelly), who is looking to go to Harvard but becomes sidetracked by a modelling career.

THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH will still turn away as many viewers as it is able to attract, but the surreal nature of the characters is taken to a degree that is both believable but also eccentric. Shelly and Burke create enough chemistry to keep the film afloat and Cooke gives an exceptional performance as a conflicted father who seems to want the best for his daughter, but also leads her down a few wrong paths. It’s an interesting film with many likable qualities, but the truly memorable moments are sporadic in their arrival.

Three Out Of Five StarsTHE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 27th May via Artificial Eye.

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