Review by Sean Boelman
Quentin Dupieux makes a very distinctive style of absurdist comedies, so fans should be used to what he brings to the table by now. Incredible but True is somehow both his most stripped-down and maximalist film yet, although it struggles with finding the meaning that is what makes Dupieux’s work so special.
The movie follows a couple who move into what seems to be the home of their dreams, only to discover that the basement harbors an unexpected dark secret. Dupieux is known for taking these simple, absurd premises and making something profound out of them, but this one feels disappointingly shallow compared to the rest of his work.
What is perhaps most surprising is that a majority of the most interesting commentary comes not from the core premise, but a side plot that amounts to little more than a running gag. It’s occasionally very funny but grows repetitive after a bit, especially when the critique of masculinity starts to run out of steam.
In fact, that ends up being the issue with much of the film as a whole. There are some interesting ideas explored in the first twenty minutes, but Dupieux cannot sustain them, even for the movie’s brief seventy-four-minute runtime. Even his trademark goofy humor cannot keep the audience interested.
The dynamic between the four central characters is intriguing, but there simply isn’t enough time for it to be fully developed. As a result, it ends up giving the film an almost melodramatic feel. And although Dupieux typically thrives in working with exaggerated relationships, this movie largely comes up short.
Even more disappointing is the fact that everyone in the cast seems to be on autopilot. The central players are all A-list French actors: Alain Chabat, Lèa Drucker, Benoît Magimel, and Anaïs Demoustier. Yet out of the four, only Magimel gets anything substantially funny to do in his role.
There are a few interesting visual symbols throughout the movie, but they are not fully utilized. One recurring motif poses some interesting questions, serving as the central thesis of the film, but it leaves something to be desired. And there is one visual gag that is quite funny and memorable.
Incredible but True is the rare disappointment from Quentin Dupieux. Although it has a solid premise, it ends up feeling largely underbaked and underwhelming in regards to what it does with its story.
Incredible but True screened at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival. which runs July 13 through August 3.