Wednesday, September 28, 2011
CIFF 2011 -- Le Quattro Volte
Michelangelo Frammartino’s remarkable debut film uses an unnamed town in Calabria as an observatory to examine the metaphysical circle of life. The film’s title is translated to “Four Times” and comes from Pythagoras’ belief that a soul passes through four phases from human to animal to vegetable to mineral. Frammartino’s film is thus accordingly broken up into four distinct parts which are clearly separated by visual cues. The first part features an aging goat herder troubled by a persistent cough. The herder’s medicinal cure for the cough is quite unorthodox but is in keeping with the film’s metaphysical theme. One day the herder misplaces his medicine and that leads to a worsening of his health thereby preventing him from tending to his goats. Chaos takes place after a hilarious sequence involving a delivery truck and a guard dog results in the herder's goats having freedom to take over the town. The birth of a goat ushers the film’s second part, the funniest and heartfelt of all the four parts. The baby goat’s journey paves the path for the final two phases of the film which feature a tree and a steaming heap of charcoal.
Le Quattro Volte is a visually stunning film that packs each frame with plenty of incidents which are flushed out in more details later on, such as the purpose of the wooden cross and the delivery truck. The delivery truck plays a key role in the story and the contents of its delivery in the finale complete the circle of life. The cues to mark the beginning of each phase are smartly integrated in the film thereby keeping the story flowing smoothly. Also, the rich usage of sound coupled with the smart visuals hardly make one notice the absence of dialogues in the film. The few scattered inaudible words blend perfectly in the background sound and enhance the film watching experience.
Le Quattro Volte rightly won the Director’s Fortnight prize in Cannes 2010 as Frammartino is one of the best directors to have emerged in recent years. The film is showing twice this weekend at the Calgary International Film Festival. It is a must-see film that is easily one of the best films this year.