Fraught with over obvious symbolism, Hartley's early feature is nonetheless a joy to watch. Hal here shows us his uncanny ability to cast his characters perfectly came early in his career.
Adrienne Shelley is a near...展开perfect foil to herself, equal parts annoying teen burgeoning in her sexuality (though using sex for several years); obsessed with doom and inspired by idealism gone wrong she is deceptively – and simultaneously – complex and simple. Her Audrey inspires so many levels of symbolism it is almost embarrassingly rich (e.g., her modeling career beginning with photos of her foot – culminating her doing nude (but unseen) work; Manhattan move; Europe trip; her stealing, then sleeping with the mechanics wrench, etc.)
As Josh, Robert Burke gives an absolutely masterful performance. A reformed prisoner/penitent he returns to his home town to face down past demons, accept his lot and begin a new life. Dressed in black, and repeatedly mistaken for a priest, he corrects everyone ("I'm a mechanic"), yet the symbolism is rich: he abstains from alcohol, he practices celibacy (is, in fact a virgin), and seemingly has taken on vows of poverty, and humility as well. The humility seems hardest to swallow seeming, at times, almost false, a pretense. Yet, as we learn more of Josh we see genuineness in his modesty, that his humility is indeed earnest and believable. What seems ironic is the character is fairly forthright in his simplicity, yet so richly drawn it becomes the viewer who wants to make him out as more than what he actually is. A fascinatingly written character, perfectly played.
The scene between Josh and Jane (a wonderful, young Edie Falco . . . "You need a woman not a girl") is hilarious . . . real. But Hartley can't leave it as such and his trick, having the actors repeat the dialogue over-and-over becomes frustratingly "arty" and annoying . . . until again it becomes hilarious. What a terrific sense of bizarre reality this lends the film (like kids in a perpetual "am not"/"are too" argument).
Hartley's weaves all of a small neighborhood's idiosyncrasies into a tapestry of seeming stereotypes but which delves far beneath the surface, the catalyst being that everyone believes they know what the "unbelievable truth" of the title is, yet no two people can agree (including our hero) on what exactly that truth is. A wonderful little movie with some big ideas.