Typical absurdist film from Quentin Dupieux in his tenth feature, Incredible But True. A thoroughly funny tale of a midlife crisis, we have a ridiculously entertaining and charming film that also compels and actually has a lot of heart.
Alain (Alain Chabat) and Marie (Léa Drucker) have been together for a long time. A very long time. Now at a stage in life where they’re looking for a change, they buy a mysterious house in the suburbs. Their real estate agent had a particular enthusiasm about some especially unusual features in the home’s basement. Something that could potentially change their lives. Marie is particularly drawn to it.
The fear of ageing is as real as any fear you can come across, it is there in the pit of our gut, waiting to strike at us, and for some, when that fear comes to the fore, there is little we can do but panic. This is where Quentin Dupieux finds us with his cast. He shows us that we can try and slightly change things up in our life as Alain does, or like Marie and Gérard, we can go down an inescapable path that can only lead to pain.
The premise for Incredible But True is rather simple and one that will not be spoiled here. However, what really strikes you is how confident Dupieux is to not worry about the finer details. Here is his idea, and there will be no “what ifs” or follow up theories. It is a ridiculous film and one that can be bewildering to an audience. Somehow though, there is something a lot deeper here.
It is an examination of the ways we try to make ourselves feel or look younger. Who doesn’t want to look like they did when they were 19? What doesn’t an ageing man with manhood issues wish he was as virile as he was in his youth? Even the question of what happens when your long-term partner has neglected you to the point you look further afield. Do you give in to temptation or remain strong for the relationship?
There are montages in Incredible But True that are dialogue-free with just some of Jon Santo’s music playing where we see the downward spiral of some of our cast. But, on the other hand, this would be nonsense, a step too far into storytelling. Yet in Dupieux’s= well-worn left field hands, it works and works magnificently. It is one of many moments that have you fall for the film, it is so resolute in its premise and ideal that nothing can deter it, and happily, you wouldn’t want it any other way.
Incredible But True is pure Dupieux. Even though he is in a deeper, sombre mood here, he still swings wildly with his ideas, striking them cleanly as he does so. Somehow this story and how it is told works tremendously well. It shouldn’t, yet it does. It is a wacky old premise that has you laughing multiple times. There is no rhyme nor reason to what we see, yet you are continually entertained. He has this inane ability to know exactly where to punch in a joke or light moment to surprise us. Few have it, and even fewer filmmakers have the confidence to do it as Dupieux does here.
At its heart, this is a film about denial, and its main trio do some fantastic work. Chabat has to play the straight man effectively and does so very well. Whereas Drucker is set loose, and boy does she go for it with her yearning for a younger body. Benoît Magimel as Alain’s friend and boss almost steals the film, though. He has had surgery that is beyond sense, and as he and his partner explain it to Alain and Marie, we have the same reaction as them. The film is anything but subtle, yet that feels as if it is the point. It comes across as a warning shot to those tempted to alter their appearance or life as age catches up to them. Maybe, you are better off just accepting who you are.
While Magimel and Drucker’s performances garner laughs, you are always feeling sorry for them. They have gone down this tunnel (in Drucker’s case, literally) where they cannot escape, stuck in an endless loop of pain, and honestly, it breaks your heart a touch to see people lost in the way that they are.
With this being Dupieux’s tenth film, his creativity has clearly no chance of halting anytime soon. Thank goodness that is the case. If he can create breathes of fresh air like this, then we will be all too happy to follow along. Bonkers but fantastic.
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