Well Truffle Hunters is a documentary in which nothing happens. Or does it?
Truffle Hunters is one of the most organic documentaries I’ve ever seen. Basically, the filmmakers record conversations between a variety of people in the truffle industry. There is no voice over. No guidance. Seemingly it’s point and film. Yet, this narrative style is all the more compelling. The artifice of filmmaking is overshadowed by the enigmatic “plot”.
The first thing that confuses the uninitiated – ie me – was the setting. Language, French? Italian. Both. So where is it set? Without resorting to the internet, I presumed somewhere in northern Italy—why northern? The confluence of languages.
The cinematography doesn’t give anything away – kudos to Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw – but it is gorgeous. The opening “scene” is an overhead shot of countryside ie trees. Camera slowly pans in until you can see man/men and dog/dogs scouring said countryside. Up and down embankments clearly looking for something rather than the amble of a rambler.
There are so many filmic moments: a husband and a wife cleaning tomatoes, people sniffing a red-velvet cushioned truffle, a dog Go-Pro, man and dog walking in the snow, and of course, the final scene.
Truffle Hunters is about a coterie of men and their dogs. Men working in a luxury industry who care more about the land, the environment and their dogs than they do the nuggets of wealth they seek. It’s about greed – figuratively and literally. It’s about subterfuge. And the lengths to which people will go to find and to consume truffles. It’s about the worlds inhabited by men who hunt for pleasure and men who kill for gain. It’s a glimpse into fascinating lifestyle I never knew existed.
The film is funny, disgusting, heart-warming, slow, fast, charming, shocking, satisfying and frustrating. The lives of the truffle hunters are obviously being eroded and one day all we will have is this wonderful homage. Sigh.
Hint: don’t look up the film on the internet, just go and immerse yourself in another world.
The Truffle Hunters, 84 minutes, PG-13 (strong language)
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