Incredible But True starts as it means to go on; with two people trying to tell a story, tripping over their words, failing to explain themselves, and finally being cut away from before they can get to the real point. All in all, it’s a very Quentin Dupieux way to open a movie (one that likely won’t win over many sceptics to his style), intriguing and silly and more than a little annoying, a balance that the rest of the film keeps up for pretty much all of its very brisk sub-75 minute runtime.
Through his typically wackadoo lens, Dupieux uses Incredible But True to examine the indignities of aging and the ravaging effect these indignities can have one someone’s sense of self. When middle-aged couple Alain (Alain Chabat) and Marie (Lea Drucker) move into a new house, they find it comes with a supernatural basement in which they can climb down a chute and emerge onto the house’s second floor 12 hours in the future with their bodies de-aged by about three days.
Dupieux takes his time explaining the exact rules of this magic pipe (repeating the cutting before revelation trick of the first scene multiple times in a deliberately evasive manner), mostly using this sci-fi conceit to send cracks through Alain and Marie’s marriage. Alain is secure in his aging, flabby-ish body, but Marie becomes transfixed at the idea of a second youth, the mere possibility of which drives her quite swiftly to obsession. Chabat and Drucker play their arguments excellently, and both are well tuned in to Dupieux’s deadpan tone, making the absurd seem utterly mundane.
It’s not just the obsession with female youth that Dupieux is tackling here, though. Alain might be comfortable with a declining physical prowess, but his sometimes chummy, sometimes furious boss Gerard (Benoit Magimel) is not, investing in a mechanical penis from Japan to try and impress his younger girlfriend. This, naturally, makes for a much sillier subplot which may try your patience, but it’s still executed with sincerity and Magimel is very good in another role honing in on a man’s fading relevance this year after the quietly excellent Pacifiction.
Though his films are always pretty goofy affairs, Incredible But True does feel like minor Dupieux (it’s one of two films he released this year alongside the Cannes-premiering superhero spoof Smoking Causes Coughing). It’s a bit lighter on proper laughs than you might like and there’s little in the way of stylistic verve, while the eventual finale is reduced to a mere montage. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a nice slice of pretty fascinating, even melancholic fun that, at barely over 70 minutes, absolutely flashes by.