Combustible Celluloid
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With: Adrienne Shelly, Robert Burke, Christopher Cooke, Julia McNeal, Edie Falco
Written by: Hal Hartley
Directed by: Hal Hartley
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 90
Date: 01/04/1989

The Unbelievable Truth (1990)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Truth' and Consequences

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Hal Hartley's debut feature begins with one heck of a blonde in its main character, Audry Hugo (Adrienne Shelly). She believes the end of the world is coming and decides she doesn't want to waste her time in school anymore, despite the fact that she's brilliant and has a thing for George Washington. She falls in love with a mechanic (Robert Burke) recently released from prison on a murder charge. Hartley's gift for sardonic dialogue seems practiced but always sounds great. When characters banter back and forth, arguing or bargaining, you may be reminded of the great screwball comedies of the 1930s. But this plot is so minimalist and absurdist, it could only be a product of the '90s.

Anchor Bay released a DVD in 2001 that contained a lovely transfer, a theatrical trailer, and a recent video interview with Hartley. In 2013, that version was out of print, but Olive Films followed up with new DVD and Blu-ray editions. Extras include a "making of" featurette and a short film.

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