An awkward house viewing dramatically alters the lives of middle-aged couple Alain (Alain Chabat) and Marie (Léa Drucker). Initially somewhat underwhelmed by the property, a hidden tunnel in the basement is the decisive factor for their purchase. The subterranean extension seems to defy laws of time and space. Her husband sees less and less of her, as Marie starts spending her days descending those steps, believing she may have discovered the fountain of youth. Meanwhile, Alain’s boss, Gérard (Benoît Magimel), lets him in on a secret of his own, equally unbelievable: he had an electronic penis installed, entirely controllable via smartphone.

Quentin Dupieux’s latest grotesque premieres in the Berlinale Special section. Merging minimalist style with plot points heightened by the absurd, Incredible but True turns social criticism into a singular comedic experience. Both Marie’s and Gérard’s storylines respectively reveal how self-destructive our eternal quest for staying young is. Reminiscent of the moral message of a fairytale, the feature reveals the contradictions of spending a large part of one’s life wishing to recreate the past. 

On top of writing and directing, Dupieux also worked as cinematographer and editor of the project. The camerawork is straightforward and purposeful, but the offbeat nature of the story would have easily permitted experimentation without losing focus. The pace of the edit keeps the audience intrigued and manages to sidestep convention. Some events are split and shown out of order, their context revealed at later stages. 

The performances, in particular those of Drucker and Magimel, are impressive. The actors approach their characters not as laughing stock, but through sincerity in the face of the bizarre, tackling the individual dilemmas and antics asked for by the script.

Incredible but True is a quick and funny watch, but its inference resonates long after one has left the screening room.

★★★★☆

Selina Sondermann

Incroyable mais Vrai (Incredible but True) does not have a UK release date yet.

For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.

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