Berlinale 2022: Dupieux’s Latest Kooky Comedy ‘Incredible But True’
by Alex Billington
February 13, 2022
Another amazing, amusing “incredible but true” film from the one-and-only filmmaker Quentin Dupieux! After premiering Mandibles in 2020 at the start of the pandemic, Dupieux is back with another small time, kooky comedy called Incredible But True, originally known as Incroyable Mais Vrai in French. This new film is a commentary on getting older, focusing on one couple and their friends and what happens when they move into a new house and discover its secret. Dupieux makes the best kind of lighthearted, humorous indie cinema. It’s hard to explain what it is about his filmmaking that I enjoy so much. His films are always light and wacky and funny and entirely original – there’s no one else telling these stories in this way with this kind of quirky humor. Even if he’s not making the most brilliant films, they’re still entertaining and riotous.
One of the other great tricks of Quentin Dupieux’s films is they never spend too much time building up or introducing characters because they don’t need to and that’s fine. That kind of backstory is unnecessary in the context of his films, and ambiguity is important because we get to learn more about them as the story plays out. And because the less we know, the funnier it is when odd things begin to happen. Dupieux’s films are also never overly dense or complex, which is part of the charm – they’re light-hearted, make-you-laugh-at-the-awkwardness cinema. His ingenuity is in the concept, at least with most of his recent creations. The gimmick in Incredible But True involves a strange tube found in the basement of this house that a middle-aged couple decides to buy. I won’t spoil what it does or how it works, that’s also part of the charm. Though I can say it’s kind of a Dupieux reinvention of the Monkey’s Paw, but with other consequences and benefits.
Another aspect of Incredible But True that works well is the balance between the male and female takes on aging and the fears of each side. The stereotypical male concern as one gets older is whether or not his penis will still work at its best. Of course. The stereotypical female concern as one gets older is beauty and how to keep that younger look and feel. These obsessions unravel in the film in cringey, hilarious ways; even though the initial focus is on the woman, played by Léa Drucker. I would like to discuss the commentary further, but it’s better to let everyone else see the film before diving into these aspects. It’s simple and obvious, but sometimes that works and in this case it works perfectly for this particular wacky Dupieux story (and, in all honesty, for most of his films). Not everything needs to be so complex if you can tell a good story and make it entertaining anyway, even at barely 74 minutes. And with this film the simplicity is a feature, not a flaw.
As a fan of Dupieux’s films, it is no surprise that I enjoyed this one. It’s not exactly a home run for the artist also known as “Mr. Oizo”, but still so much fun to watch. Another funky, farcical Dupieux™ parable. What I enjoy the most, with this one and with Mandibles, is how intelligent and clever these films are despite being so ridiculous and careless at times. They will leave you with something to think about, something to discuss with friends afterwards, despite the quirks. Dupieux’s on his 9th feature and certainly knows how to craft and shoot and put together a movie, but it never feels like he’s trying to make the greatest thing ever made, just something amusing for all of us to enjoy until he comes up with another wacky idea for a film. The end of this latest one is especially funny because it almost seems like he got tired with the film and just decided to jump ahead to the finale. Sure, why not? At least the rest of it is a good time hanging with Alain & Marie.