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Incroyable mais vrai
DIRECTED BY: Quentin Dupieux
FEATURING: Alain Chabat, Léa Drucker, Benoît Magimel, Anaïs Demoustier
PLOT: Unlike his wife, Alain isn’t impressed by the dazzling feature hidden away in the basement of their new home, and his boss Gérard can’t believe that neither of them are impressed by his new penis.
WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: Dupieux takes on two absurd premises and runs with both in tandem, and in so doing explores some lofty themes by way of a time-travel plot device and a “steerable” iPenis.
COMMENTS: Please believe me when I say there was a legitimate reason why I began earnestly checking my watch two-thirds into this (*gasp*), and for hoofing it out of the auditorium before the end credits had finished (double-*gasp*). Incredible But True filled me with such enthusiasm that I felt it imperative to return to my hotel room as quickly as possible to write this review. So, here I am. I made good time—and that is a perfect segue.
Dupieux’s latest film is predominately about time, and its passing. About aging, and aging’s ramifications. Alain (Alain Chabat, in full-on mellow) is an insurance functionary, and he and his wife purchase a new home featuring an odd basement amenity that, as the realtor explains after much breathless “You won’t be believe this…”, defies the laws of space and time. The upshot of it is a slooooow path to youth. This prospect leaves Alain amused, but fairly indifferent; his wife Marie becomes obsessed. Before the domestic feature takes over her life, the two have dinner with Alain’s boss Gérard, and his girlfriend Jeanne. These dinner guests explain, after much delay in the reveal, that Gérard got an upgrade.
The deadpan comedy trundles along to a plucky score, with the surrounding absurdity perfectly bouncing off Alain Chabat’s unflappable demeanor. His character is older, and content with it; has his limitations, and is at peace with those. Marie becomes obsessed with youth, Gérard is obsessed with being perceived as masculine—exemplified most obviously by his implant, but also by his penchant for fast cars and firing ranges, where a nasty recoil incident triggers his first run-in with technological fallibility. In many ways, Alain is more like Jeanne, an avidly sexual being who lives for the now and neither makes nor demands apologies from others living their lives.
Having set this plot in motion, Dupieux lets it roll nicely until…
Until… it just kind of ends. I like to think that I understand, as much as one might hope to, what Dupieux is about. I love that no idea is too crazy, and that someone out there is making comedies that are clever and outlandish. But too often, his movies just seem to stop. He’s got the middles nailed, and is good enough setting his various gears in motion (maybe he’d do well to talk with Steven Penny), but though I don’t necessarily demand a punchline, or, Heaven forbid, a nicely wrapped-up narrative complete with expository ribbon, Rubber, Keep an Eye Out, and now Incredible But True all feel like they cop-out on the finale. That said, I can still full-throatedly recommend this movie—as could the hundreds of fellow viewers who laughed along with me through the feature. Indeed, watching a Dupieux film in a theater full of avid enthusiasts was almost as surreal as the film itself.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“Throughout the film’s lean 74 minutes, Dupieux coaxes four strong core performances, while the jaunty bounce of Jon Santo’s synth-led score mirrors the film’s cheerful weirdness.” -Lou Thomas, Sight & Sound (festival screening)
4 thoughts on “APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: INCREDIBLE BUT TRUE (2022)”
The one review from this festival I’ve been waiting for!
Glad to hear it’s recommended despite the ending. I remember reading somewhere that Chinese films don’t have conclusive endings because it was a principle of Confucian education to teach the student to draw their own conclusions from the material. What does this have to do with Dupieux? Nothing. I would never claim to detect an underlying philosophy to his methods, especially since his films often seem to argue against this (even though they often deal with philosophical subjects). But I assume he isn’t overly concerned with how people interpret, or misinterpret, his work. At any rate, I’m looking forward to seeing this now. At least he’s staying weird.
Definitely a great movie, and the criticism I put forward perhaps leans more toward an observation. My love of films stems from my love of stories, so it’s saying something about the quality of “Incredible But True” that I didn’t mind so much that the story merely stopped instead of resolved.
Formally, I like the way Dupieux handled the ending here with a bit of experimentation. [MILD POSSIBLE SPOILER] It’s a 10+ minute montage set to music showing what happens to the characters as the years go by. Caught me by surprise. Narratively, I can see how it might be seen as unsatisfying.
I liked the ending, too. Given the subject matter, I think it worked. And while I enjoyed the film, I don’t think it’s Apocrypha worthy. I consider Rubber and Deerskin to be far weirder movies.