What we have here is an indie romantic comedy, adorably done. Adrienne Shelly, who is petite and cute and pale as winter snow, stars as Audrey Hugo, a mechanic's daughter who has been accepted at Harvard (or so she says) but has no intention of going. She is obsessed with what she sees as the inevitability of nuclear war and attendant horrors, which she reads about aloud to herself and anyone who will listen.
It is 1988 and this is Long Island, New York, although it looks a lot like Jersey to me. Certainly this is not the high rent district of Long Island. Her boyfriend is shallow and doesn't listen to her. Her father thinks she ought to go to the local community college which he notes is a whole lot cheaper than Harvard. She is bored with her senior year at high school and usually cuts.
Enter tall, handsome, dressed all in black Robert Burke as Josh Hutton just released from prison. People who meet him ask, "Are you a priest?" He answers, "I'm a mechanic." And indeed he is an especially wondrous one who, of course, goes to work for Audrey's father, Vic Hugo (Chris Cooke) and becomes invaluable. Although it seems that Josh killed a girl and then the girl's father some years ago, we of course know from the title and from Josh's obviously sterling character that the "unbelievable truth" must be otherwise. And of course so does Audrey who is immediately smitten with him. But Josh is apparently practicing something like celibacy ("Are you a priest?") and rebuffs Audrey's advances, thereby initiating a whole slew of romantic misunderstandings wittily tossed about by director Hal Hartley along with some spiffy Mamet-like dialogue.
Now enter a photographer who makes Audrey into a fashion model, first her feet, but eventually the entire petite torso. Physically she moves to New York City, but her heart is still with Josh at her dad's auto repair shop. She even carries Josh's wrench in her handbag, with which she threatens the photo guy when he tries to get too close.
What makes this film a delight in spite of all the obvious elements and the predictable complications is the original, independent and sparkling character of Audrey, the true blue integrity of Josh, some clever and funny dialogue, and a kind of warm puppy feel usually the signature property of a Nora Ephron film starring Meg Ryan.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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