I watched writer and director Quentin Dupieux’s film, Incredible But True (2022), via the Fantasia International Film Festival 2022, and went through a series of reactions. I’ve not seen Dupiex’s full filmography, but I have seen Rubber (2010), which I didn’t like, and Mandibles (2020), which I did. Whether you love or hate Dupieux films, his unique style is recognizable, and it’s hard to deny that it’s different than most other films.
Incredible but True begins with Alain (Alain Chabat) and Marie (Léa Drucker) looking at a house while cross-cutting with a later scene where we know their decision. The house is large and in decent shape, but the couple initially seems disinterested. However, the real estate agent has a jewel he feels will make or break their interest. The couple is intrigued by what the house offers, but they are warned that what is in the basement may well change their lives forever.
There are a lot of ideas introduced in this film. The importance of beauty, what makes a man a “man”, and the dynamics between men and women in relationships are all ideas that Dupiex’s story and characters seek to explore. There is one element of the story – Alain’s struggles with a specific client who is making trouble over some contract – that serves as a great example of what is wrong with the film overall. This idea is introduced, and then never gets a conclusion. I’m not sure if this movie ran out of money, or if it was just running so long that most of the story had to be wrapped up via a montage that nearly ends the film. Nonetheless, there is something that just feels inconclusive about so much of the movie.
Despite the lack of closure on pretty much everything, the premise of the film is interesting. I found myself pondering all the possible meanings, and speculating on where the film may go. This internal questioning kept me engaged, and the film’s relatively short runtime helped make the experience more enjoyable than When I watched Rubber. Regardless of one’s feelings for the movie, it is clear that Dupiex is going to make what he wants, and there is a level of respect that I have for that kind of filmmaker.
Even admitting begrudging respect for Dupiex’s style, I feel that Incredible but True isn’t the best example of what that kind of freedom can make. There are some elements that are worth exploring, and Dupiex found some interesting ways in which to engage with these themes. Yet, at the end of the movie, it felt like either Dupiex didn’t know what he wanted to say, or just got bored thinking about it. Thus, in the end, the movie earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.