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The Unbelievable Truth Review

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Recently released con Josh Hutton, who served time for murder, returns to his hometown and falls for local beauty Audry. But the town, especially Audry’s father, are wary of Josh, unsure of the extent of Josh’s crimes.

★★★★

Hal Hartley is a low-key prince of an American filmmaker whose studies of small-town American life manage to be both lyrical and caustic, darkly comic fables of eccentrics and enigmas planted in the everyday. They usually get classified as offbeam, and there are leanings toward the bizzarro impulses of David Lynch, but for all his gentle whimsy Hartley’s films do make a lot of sense. He’s the Steve Soderbergh who never made it big. Thank God, because then we get terrific little movies like this.

Made on next to nothing, but still refreshingly ungrainy-looking, the film revolves around a central mystery — what is the extent of Josh’s (Robert Burke) crimes in the past and is he still dangerous? The later an especially pertinent point given he has hooked up with the listless 17 year-old Audry. The outcomes, however, are never quite as important as typical films would have them, the plot being more of a framework for Hartley’ to hang his preoccupations upon: intellect, memory, love, guilt and the impending apocalypse. His characters define themselves against a doomy pessimism that sets them all as oddballs. Hartley just can’t see conformity in the world, he may be allergic to it.

Robert Burke and the lovely Adrienne Shelley, give easy, lolling performances, characteristic of how Hartley (who directs-writes-edits and if you ask him nicely makes a great cup of coffee) manages a form of holistic filmmaking where everything becomes a necessary part of the seamless whole. It’s drifty, dreamy quality that, contrary to the film’s indie-cool ingredients, makes it eminently watchable and modern.

Accurately described as a romantic comedy, it's brimful of often deadpan jokes in its affectionate and zany look at smalltown lifestyles and prejudices.