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The Unbelievable Truth [DVD] [1991]

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Adrienne Shelly, Robert John Burke, Chris Cooke, Julia McNeal, Katherine Mayfield
  • Directors: Hal Hartley
  • Writers: Hal Hartley
  • Producers: Hal Hartley, Bruce Weiss, Jerome Brownstein
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Cest La Vie
  • DVD Release Date: 29 Mar. 2004
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00013YQK6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,947 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

Romantic comedy from Hal Hartley in his directorial debut. Audry (Adrienne Shelly) is a Long Island teenager beset with worries - college, parents, nuclear war - and frustrated by small-town life. When mysterious Josh (Robert Burke) arrives and goes to work as a mechanic for Audry's father, she feels overwhelmingly attracted to him, despite town rumours that he's a murderer.

Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on 24 July 2002
Format: VHS Tape
An early film of Hal Hartley, this is less slick in production but much more inventive, fresh and lively than some of his later movies. All of the subtle human observations of directors like Bill Forsyth are present, as is a nice low key attitude of direction and of the acting. Despite a few strangely surreal comedic set pieces, the characters are all just about believable as the population of 'hicksville'. Robert Burke has just the right weight for the part and plays it gently but with conviction. Sadly this movie is not available in the UK on DVD and even DVD copies in NTSC (American) format are becoming quite rare in the US. Let's hope the publishers find out there's a market over here for the work.
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Format: DVD
Hartley's debut feature-length film, featuring many of his regular cast, has the best dry, philosophical, socially-conscious humor of any of his films, even while the limited budget of his first production shows in comparison to some of his glossier later efforts.

Despite the low-budget production, it would have been a simple task to give the film a decent DVD transfer, which C'est La Vie has regretfully not done, hence my low rating. The picture quality is faded, grainy, and fuzzy, noticeable from the first frame, in which the white letters of the title sequence show up against a gray background that is (of course) supposed to be black. A new VHS tape would have a similar picture quality!

Here's hoping that this wonderful under-appreciated little film gets a decent transfer someday, such as Hartley's follow-up "Trust" (1990) received.
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Format: DVD
Superb film by Hal Hartley. Sadly as previously reviewed, the DVD transfer is rather poor (looks like it has been transferred from tape rather than film). However, if you watch it on a computer you can adjust the brightness/contrast settings to improve it. Why bother? Because it's a wonderfully poetic film that does that lovely Hartley thing of playing the everyday against abstract ideals. Blue collar working class life, its language and beliefs are turned to tragicomic ends. In this way his use of repetition reminds me of Harold Pinter, but instead of conveying aggression, the results are light, absurd, mysterious and beautiful. The cinematography gets close to some William Eggleston stills. The film itself feels more fluent than his later work, although it definitely has a direct relationship with Henry Fool (man commits a crime, is somewhat aloof, wears an overall with a name badge sewn into it etc. etc.). There's something for Hal Harley and indie fans alike. Definitely one of my faves.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you can look past a poor first twenty minutes, the ridiculousness of Adrienne Shelly's character Audrey, and a heavy-handed script where the issues of "deals" between the characters is concerned, there's a decent film in 'The Unbelievable Truth'. Robert Burke is excellent as Josh Hutton, a mechanic who has been recently released from prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend's father, a conviction about which, rumour, uncertainty and exaggeration abound, in the hometown he returns to. His relationship with Shelly's Audrey is well played by both actors, and the sense of chemistry between the leads is one of the best facets of the film. Hartley's script has a fairly good blend of poignancy and razor-edged satire, and the film moves along at a fair pace. There's also a choppy, guitar-heavy score which is good in the right scenes (though awkwardly placed in some parts of the film). 'The Unbelievable Truth' is also a film which looks and sounds quite good, with its stylish cinematography and unexpected cuts. Perhaps most impressively, though, the film handles the issue and nature of Josh's 'crimes' sensitively and with a real level-headedness.

As a whole though, 'The Unbelievable Truth' never quite holds together. Audrey's obsession with the end of the world and nuclear issues is almost cringeworthy in its attempt to satirise left-wing youth culture, and the script produces too many one-dimensional characters, like Audrey's lovestruck ex-boyfriend Emmet (whose one character facet seems to be shoving any man who looks at Audrey), whilst, out of keeping with her romantic side with Josh, she repeatedly tells him, "you disgust me".
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is Hal Hartley's best ever film for me (much as I also love many of his later, more widely acclaimed, works); important, delightful, moving, thoughtful, funny, fundamental masterpiece.
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