The Truffle Hunters

The Truffle Hunters

Directors: Michael DweckGregory Kershaw. Cast: Piero BottoSergio CaudaMaria Cicciù, Carlo Gondola, Aurelio Conterno

One of the most unexpected surprises in quite a while and certainly the most charming and loveliest film I’ve seen this year. On paper it had all the credential to be a snooze-fest: a documentary about old men somewhere in Piedmont in northern Italy, who spend their lives looking for truffles. Well, believe me, there’s so much more to that: Produced by Luca Guadagnino and spoken in a mixture of Italian and strict dialect (thank God for English Subtitles!), this is a portrait of old age and the acceptance of mortality, an ode to simple lives, heartwarming tales of the relationships between the old men and their dogs (the film is as much as the old met than it is about dogs: at some point a camera is strapped to one of them as for a few minutes we become the dogs, running though the woods). And then we get a glimpse of the darker side too: the viscidness that surrounds the trade beyond the actual picking of truffles (including, horror or horrors, dogs poisoned by the envious competitors), the incredible high prices of these tiny roots, and all those posh people willing to spend a fortune for a good meal. And in among all this a splendid theatre of wonderful characters, so perfect, so quirky, so sweet that they feel scripted.

Carlo and his wife in their daily routines, making wines, picking tomatoes, discussing that at 87, it’s now time he stops going out at night looking for truffles.

The beardy guy who swears a lot, disenchanted by the way the market has tainted the job. The man who has a bath with his dog and breaks down to tears as he explains to a policeman who he had 2 dogs poisoned.

And then, Aurelio, the grumpy old man, all alone with nobody to pass his mantle onto and willing to take his secrets to the grave, seemingly selfish but actually desperate to find somebody to take care of his dog as he’s becoming more and more aware of his own mortality: “I’m soon going for a long trip and I might be back” her confesses to dog.

And while all this happens the camera captures it all, in all its beauty, in simple wide shots, unobtrusive, discreet, without any edits.

Little vignettes, tantalising moments, glimpses of lives.I can see how this might not be for everyone, but if you’re willing to let yourself go and immerse yourself in the lives of these wonderful individuals you may even learn something about the beauty of a simple life.

It comes out in spring both in the US and UK.

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