Like fellow French filmmaker Michel Gondry, Quentin Dupieux favors plots governed by fantastical, absurd elements, but while Gondry has very definite narrative goals in mind Dupieux seems so hung up on the elements themselves that he can’t quite get them to add up to a story. In his latest economic (74 minutes!) feature, a couple, Alain (Alain Chabat) and Marie (Lea Drucker), purchase their dream house in a leafy, luxurious suburb, in spite of, or perhaps because of, two strange holes in the living room—one on the ceiling and one on the floor. The real estate agent explains the holes openly and at length: When a person enters the hole on the floor he or she exits via the hole in the ceiling, and in doing so time for that person jumps 12 hours into the future while they also become three days younger.
The comic possibilities of this setup seem endless, but Dupieux limits himself to one that, despite the short running time, exhausts its mojo right away. Alain finds the hole a bit intimidating, but Marie can’t get enough of it, and, sure enough, as the movie progresses she becomes visibly younger and, in the process, puts a notable strain on their marriage that no counseling could alleviate. Adding injury to an already farfetched concept, there is a parallel storyline involving Alain’s unpleasant boss, Gerard (Benoit Magimel), who decides to replace his penis with a new electric model that should last longer and work more efficiently as he gets older.
What Marie and Gerard have in common is a wish to allay the indignities of aging, and for a while Dupieux exploits the humor inherent in such vain pursuits with success. It’s when he tries to offload the plot development onto a more disturbing track that the movie loses its bearings, not to mention the viewer’s faith in the whole enterprise. One thing about Gondry’s ridiculous fantasies is that they revolve around people with real problems and recognizable lives, but no one here, even the relatively grounded Alain, feels genuine. Incredible But True is just an exercise in clever ideas that have nowhere to go.
In French and Japanese. Now playing in Tokyo at Human Trust Cinema Yurakucho (03-6259-8608), Shinjuku Piccadilly (050-6861-3011).
Incredible But True home page in Japanese
photo (c) Atelier de production-Arte France Cinema-Versus Production-2022