An old shepherd lives his last days in a quiet medieval village perched high on the hills of Calabria, at the southernmost tip of Italy. He herds goats under skies that most villagers have ... See full summary »
Gianni is a middle-aged man living in Rome with his imposing and demanding elderly mother. His only outlet from her and the increasing debt into which they are sinking, are the increasingly... See full summary »
Gianni Di Gregorio
Valeria De Franciscis,
Camille, a mercurial César-winning actress, has seen better times. Estranged from her husband, she's with her children only every other weekend. It's her weekend, but her agent has booked ... See full summary »
A police inspector investigates an unusual suicide case. The investigation develops into an obsession, inspector starts living in the apartment of the deceased, digging through his life and gradually taking over his identity.
An old shepherd lives his last days in a quiet medieval village perched high on the hills of Calabria, at the southernmost tip of Italy. He herds goats under skies that most villagers have deserted long ago. He is sick, and believes to find his medicine in the dust he collects on the church floor, which he drinks in his water every day. Written by
A life-cycle film, whose camera observes the Quattro Volte (or four turns) of the film in reverent silence. What are these four turns? They could be the seasons, or they could be the four key events which mark the story like milestones on a rural road. With great care in framing every shot, the protagonist of each section (such as there are sections) moves from a goatherd to become a goat to become a tree, with smoking soil as the recapitulated opening in which a man tends to a char pile.
This volcanic mound, shrouded in its own exhaust reminded me of the bell-casting scene of Andrei Rublev, a film which also passes a baton between protagonists in a humanity-biopic located around a single place. It's also a film with a Christian undertow, in which piety and Damascene revelation are woven into the violent, human tales. It's the same with this film: the superstition of the old man's ingestion of church dust gives way to more metaphorical symbols - a helpless goat (lamb of Christ), a tree (the dulce lignum of the cross/Christmas tree). These aren't proselytising ciphers though, simply symbols that open up the scope of the narrative, enriching the story.
Essentially the film documents the idiosyncrasies of the situations the camera finds. The takes are of medium duration - with the exception of one extremely long, complicated, funny and vaguely miraculous single take during an Easter parade - and allow the artless subjects to behave as they are found. Inbetween are long shots of the Calabrian countryside, giving the film and its content context and allowing the stories to breathe. In fact breathing is what the film does best, with its minimal, bucolic sound design featuring a recurrent heart-beat thud, first heard as the char-man tend the clay of his pyre. A film in which, without sanctimoniousness, let alone hectoring, one is reminded of the clay from which we are borne and to which will are again committed. 6/10
8 of 16 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?