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The films of Hal Hartley, New York's modern beatnik cinema laureate, are not for everyone. His self-consciously clever ping-pong dialogue sounds like a cross between song lyrics and Samuel Beckett, while his deadpan direction gives a wry cast to it all. It's romantic comedy skewed through a thoroughly modern perspective, and it sprung fully formed in his debut feature. Gloomy redheaded pixie Adrienne Shelly, a neurotic high school student fixated on doomsday scenarios, falls for the tall, dark, and mysterious Robert Burke, a black-clad, philosophy-spouting mechanic who is constantly mistaken for a priest and rumored to be a convicted murderer.
An enigmatic, intellectually playful farce played with ironic understatement, Hartley's austere film was shot on the cheap with a handsome, restrained style and directed with an approach straddling verbal slapstick and modernist irony. Shelly mixes the goofy, obsessive distractions of a screwball heroine with smarts, determination, and hardball negotiating skills, while Burke's quiet calm and confidence radiates warmth and sincerity even while playing the loner. Hartley explores the line between truth and rumor, and he takes satirical swipes at the culture of cash and contracts--yet for all his irony he remains an optimist. For all its hip '90s attitude, the unbelievable truth is that Hartley is a romantic at heart. --Sean Axmaker
When Hal Hartley s feature debut The Unbelievable Truth was released in 1990, it proved a minor revelation. For a generation of college-aged young people raised on John Hughes movies Generation X, basically Hartley immediately became the new arbiter of cool, with Adrienne Shelly as his alternate-universe Molly Ringwald, an eccentric object of desire whose motives were tantalizingly mysterious... The Unbelievable Truth deconstructs a classic story of teenage rebellion, with Burke cast as the dangerous James Dean type, and Shelly as the girl whose attraction to him arises from a general impulse to defy what s expected of her. For his part, Burke is amusingly honest about his crimes he admits to killing a man after trying to apologize for killing the man s daughter two years earlier but like all the characters in the film, his first impression isn t the same as the last... The Unbelievable Truth tapped into a mood of disaffection that was creeping through the culture. Watching it 20 years later feels like time travel. --The Onion AV Club --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Adrienne Shelly was a great actress.its a shame what happened to her.Published 7 months ago by lee w winters
This review is an excerpt from my book "Killer B's: The 237 Best Movies On Video You've (Probably) Never Seen," which is available as an ebook on Amazon. Read morePublished 8 months ago by D. Scott Apel
gave up looking for this on DVD long ago....and then i remembered it. Great filmPublished 9 months ago by Mark C.
Love the movie - but the quality is no "blu-ray". It's more like a clean VHS Copy than a true hi-def blu-ray movie. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Steve K
I got sucked in by the reviews, and having seen some other Hartley movies, I had high hopes. I don't know how many of the lines I winched at, but the cliches were flying fast, some... Read morePublished 16 months ago by jeffreycc
This film was made in 1989. It was compared to Woody Allen's work at the time because it was quirky, funny, profound and filled with zingy one liners throughout. Read morePublished 16 months ago by carol irvin
This is a great first film! I would put it up there with Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Have it" and Jim Jarmusch's "Stanger Than Paradise"
I am just kind of stunned... Read more
Have enjoyed this since it first came out. Fun for a group who have seen it. Like Rocky cult classic.Published 22 months ago by Jimmer