Thursday, February 02, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Le Quattro Volte (2010) ****

NR, 88 min.
Director/Writer: Michelangelo Frammartino
Starring: Giuseppe Fuda

Sometimes when I’m not sure what angle to take on a movie, I’ll do a little research about it and get my bearings. Sometimes I’ll find that no one seems to have their bearings. That’s what my research on the Italian film “Le Quattro Volte” led to because the movie is so good and yet so simple.

The title translates to “The Four Times”. It seems that’s been interpreted in several different ways by those who’ve praised this quiet, yet sublime movie. Some have said it was based on a belief that there are four lives that every soul lives. Some have said the four lives represented in this movie are the four stages of life. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the movie examines four aspects of life in a small Italian village that are linked by the ways in which they affect each other.

The movie starts with an old goat herder, who wards off his sickness with dust collected off the floor of a church. His passing brings us to the life of a goat. I would’ve liked to see more of the goat’s life. I wonder if goats watch this movie and scoff at the inaccuracies it depicts about their jobs? The goat’s life leads to a tree, which is used by the town in a celebration and then burned by some men in a fascinating process that leads to the final life, that given by the charcoal it creates to warm the townspeople’s meals and homes.

The movie is wordless, which might scare some viewers away. I have to admit; I put it on hold for a long time waiting for the right time when I knew I could get through it without distraction. Of course, there have been a few great wordless movies. There was a whole silent era. I think “WALL-E” might’ve been even better had it remained wordless throughout. But please, don’t let that aspect keep you away from this wondrous exploration of life. Hey! You don’t have to read the subtitles.

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