The Unbelievable Truth

Josh Hutton hitches a lift back to his hometown, a small community in Long Island. Dressed all in black, refusing drinks and exuding a sombreness tinged with serenity, more than one person takes him for a priest.

But the facts about his past – which may not even be known entirely to him – prove to be one of many unbelievable truths courted by this beguiling melodrama.

Gathering around a small cast of characters affected by Josh’s return – the car mechanic who hires him, and his daughter; an old flame; her boyfriend; a waitress who bears more than a passing resemblance to Carm from The Sopranos – Hal Hartley’s film is a study of small-town paranoia and the persistent absurdity of everyday life.

While it might at first seem like a homely potboiler told at small-town scale, Hartley’s film is in fact replete with suggestions of grander preoccupations – evocations of tragic theatre, religious overtones, and most of all, the looming threat of nuclear apocalypse.

Hartley depicts the various “truths” of life – spiritual, mundane, social, economic – in their awkward, intimate coexistence. 

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