dir. Quentin Dupieux
Sometimes, when dealing with time travel, the best explanation is no explanation at all. And that’s exactly what makes director Dupieux’s latest work; the whimsy of the narrative and impossibility of the science lending to a joyous, heartwarming and – at times – heartbreaking comedy about ageing and growing apart.
The French-Belgian production stars Alain Chabat and Léa Drucker as Alain and Marie, an ordinary, happy couple buying their first home. When they stumble on the deal of a lifetime – a house with a manhole in the basement that holds a thrilling mystery – their simple lives become more complicated and their relationship strains to the point of snapping.
Despite its short 74-minute run-time Incredible but True takes long pauses, testing both the characters and the audience to see how far they’ll lean in to learn the secrets of the manhole. The ease with which Alain and Marie accept the existence of the mind-boggling possibility of time travel is refreshing too: there is no tension around this, conflict instead coming from the desire to either accept or refuse the inevitability of growing old and – eventually – death.
With a familiar French surrealism there is a (correct) assumption that the viewer will happily live within the world of Alain and Marie without asking too many questions. It isn’t the ‘how’ that intrigues here but the ‘who’, the characters endearing beyond belief and the choices they make neither unreasonable nor unrealistic.
Many suffer from the fear of death and – perhaps even more than that – the loneliness of ageing. The expectations from society for women to age gracefully (translation: to not look older as they get older) and the fallacy that men “get better with age” are ideals that haunt a person once they’re old enough to begin to see the end of the tunnel. Incredible but True explores these brilliantly, with fantastic performances, a stunning score and a wicked sense of humour.
© Jerry Sampson