The Unbelievable Truth is a promising, reasonably engaging first feature of the art school film variety. Very consciously designed and stylized in all departments, pic has a minor-key feel to it.
Narrative has Josh, a good-looking, taciturn guy, showing up in his small New York home town after a spell in the slammer. Josh manages to land a job in a garage owned by Vic, whose daughter Audry is a 17-year-old sexpot due to enter Harvard at summer’s end.
Audry drops her longtime boyfriend, moans about the impending end of the world, resists going to college, then shocks everyone by going materialistic and hitting it big as a model in Manhattan, where she shacks up with a photographer she detests. She also makes passes at Josh, and the eventual sexual suspicions and permutations nearly take on the dimensions of a French farce.
All this is told by way of an acting style that could be described as heightened naturalism, the broadness of which constantly provokes a tickling humor while simultaneously emphasizing the banality of what is being said.
Framing the middle-class melodrama is director Hal Hartley’s manipulative artistry, which uses such devices as orchestrated color schemes, highly unrealistic sound, Godardian intertitles, repeated motifs and careful scoring.