Spoilers are the bane of reviews. Often one is able to tiptoe around them so that twists and story hocks can be avoided. Unfortunately, Incredible But True makes that near impossible, as it’s less a movie, and more the filmed version of two post-it notes on a white board waiting to have a plot added to them. I’m about to say what is written on those two post-it notes, so for those of you wanting to avoid spoilers, skip the next two sentences:
Post-It Note one: a middle-aged couple, Marie and Alain, buy a house that has a portal that sends you forward 12 hours when you travel through it, whilst also de-ageing you by three days. Post-It Note two: they also are friends with Alain’s boss and his wife. The boss has recently had an electronic penis installed.
Neither of these ideas are particularly subtle metaphors, and in essence that’s the entire movie; once the basic ideas have been presented it becomes sadly predictable. Director Quentin Dupieux manages to draw some fantastic performances out of his actors. The entire cast are a joy, but especially Alain Chabat as Alain, and a wonderfully straight-faced Stéphane Pezerat, the estate agent who sells the house. Despite these performances it becomes difficult to care for these characters and their inevitable fates as Dupieux seems far more interested in using every opportunity presented to stress that this is a film about the perils of obsession with ideas of youth and relevancy, and how these things can only be destined to fail.
It does feel churlish to get hung up here as it is literally the entire point of the film. Clearly the director is examining ideas around human interaction through an absurdist lens, allowing the audience to see themselves reflected in bizarre characters and scenarios. Further, this is a thoroughly watchable movie. Jon Santo presents an excellent score: an electronic working of Bach’s ‘Badinerie’ that jauntily carries us through and will be stuck in your head for days. Coupled with Dupieux’s compelling shot choices and interesting use of montage, as well as a running time of only 74 minutes, it’s difficult to get bored, even if this isn’t your cup of tea.
The Blu-ray itself comes with a few special features. In addition to the trailers, there are interviews with the cast and director, as well as a talking head documentary called ‘Upside Down, Inside Out’. Here, critic Elina Lazic sets out a fairly decent argument espousing the virtues of Incredible But True, calling it an accessible existential film. She also gives a fly-by history of Dupieux’s previous work, and her insights are excellent. This interview shows that Arrow Video once again should be applauded for taking the time to bring their customer’s special features that truly enhance the viewing experience.
Pleasingly quirky, undeniably weird, and with a truly wonderful premise, you’ll either find Incredible But True to be an artistic tour-de-force, or an excellent idea looking for a movie. Both would be legitimate takes.
Incredible But True is out on 7th November from Arrow Video.