Le Quattro Volte (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/05/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 88 mins

Beautifully shot and featuring some highly impressive animal wrangling, Le Quattro Volte is a bizarre arthouse film that's thought-provoking, surprisingly moving and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny – at any rate, it's safe to say that it's unlike anything else you'll see all year.

What's it all about?
Directed by Michelangelo Frammartino, Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times, translation fans) is a dialogue-free arthouse film that explores the circle of life in present day rural Calabria, Southern Italy. It begins with an old shepherd (Giuseppe Fuda) who spends his days herding goats (accompanied by his faithful dog) and medicates a nasty cough with “miracle dust” from the floor of the local church, mixed in with his tea.

Shortly after the shepherd dies, a baby goat is born and the film follows the goat through its tentative first steps to a heart-breaking sequence where it gets lost in the forest and dies at the foot of a tree. The film then focuses on the tree as it weathers the seasons before being cut down to be used in a village ritual involving, weirdly, the erection of a fake tree; there's also a unifying ant that crawls across the face of all three “protagonists” (shepherd, goat, tree) at some point.

The Good
First things first, there is some extremely impressive goat-wrangling going on here and Frammartino deserves praise for wringing one of the year's most heart-breaking performances out of a baby goat. The dog-wrangling is equally impressive, particularly during a lengthy, single-take sequence where the dog disrupts an Easter procession and eventually causes an enclosure full of goats to escape into the village.

The camerawork is utterly stunning throughout, courtesy of cinematographer Andrea Locatelli, who captures some extraordinary images, most notably a shot of charcoal smoke gently blowing over a hillside that occurs towards the end of the film. Similarly, Frammartino's observational, documentary-like approach is intriguing and adds a thought-provoking spiritual element to what's actually a weirdly metaphysical narrative about the circle of life.

The Great
Frammartino orchestrates some astonishing sequences, whether it's baby goats playing a game of King of the Castle (or Knock Each Other Off The Breeze Block) or the dog causing chaos in the village; he also shoots almost everything in long single takes, which only increases your admiration for their handlers in the dog and goat (and ant) scenes.

Worth seeing?
The slow pace and lack of dialogue might frighten off the arthouse-averse but Le Quattro Volte is an extraordinary, thought-provoking and beautifully shot film that is surprisingly rewarding. Recommended.

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Le Quattro Volte (U)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 10:52

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