Hal Hartley

"My films have never really striven to be contemporaneous," Hal Hartley noted in a 1998 interview with the Independent UK. "Actually, exactly the opposite. I've put a lot of energy into trying to keep things... not vague, but timeless." The Ernst Lubitsch of Long Island, the Jean-Luc Godard of the grunge years, Hartley almost accidentally defined the alternative American cinema of the 1990s through a series of witty, highly verbose films that were rooted in their era and their specific milieu of Long Island, New York, yet whose outsider heroes (deadbeat eccentrics and hopeless romantics, all) could exist in any place at any time. Benefitting from his buoyant screenplays and a steady roster of brilliant actors (like Martin Donovan, Adrienne Shelley, Parker Posey and Robert John Burke), films like THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH, TRUST, SIMPLE MEN and FLIRT made Hartley a Sundance and Cannes favorite and earned him praise and retrospectives around the world. Over the past decade, Hartley has turned his talents away from larger-budgeted works and towards the more accessible, immediate realms of digital video and short films, creating fast, efficient films that showcase the timelessness of his touch to even greater effect. "Aesthetics and economics go hand in hand," he recalled in a 1997 interview. "So little money, so little time. Words are cheap." Born in 1959 in a working-class area of Long Island, New York, Hartley graduated from the film school at SUNY-Purchase in 1984 and made his feature debut in 1989 with THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH. After his string of critically-acclaimed films in the '90s, he turned to digital video in 1998 with the P.J. Harvey-starring THE BOOK OF LIFE. Through the early 2000s Hartley completed NO SUCH THING, THE GIRL FROM MONDAY and FAY GRIM (along with dozens of short pieces). No matter the form, the era or the budget, "Hartley is one of the few film-makers around for whom the term 'independent’ seems apt," as the Independent UK wrote. "He produces his own movies, they're dirt cheap and, whatever genre they apparently occupy, the Hartley stamp is unmistakable and inimitable." - Jason Sanders



Recent Reviews


Similar terrain and tone to earlier works like The Unbelievable Truth and Trust. Loved it!

The Book of Life

Terrible acting, directing, story, dialogue, cinematography. The characters are laughable, gringe-worthy, and shallow. The story is tedious and unoriginal. The theology is berserk. It must have been based upon The...


Semi-documentary style short story of a turning point in an ambitious young woman's life.

The Book of Life

Hal Hartley’s low-budget legacy almost takes us by the hand once again.....although one of his laziest 'films', THE BOOK OF LIFE departs with Hartley’s reoccurring collaborator Martin Donovan characterized as...

The Girl from Monday

ok, food 4 thought