It can be a perilous game predicting films that will endure, second guessing future canons but occasionally one comes along that is so inventive in its scope, so profound in its effect, so engaging to view that its admission to the high order of film classics should be assured.
One such film is Michelangelo Frammartino’s astonishing contemplation of life’s big issues, Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times), the surprise hit of Cannes 2010 and the recipient of rave notices elsewhere.
Difficult to classify; a quasi-documentary perhaps but one with dramas that quietly unfold, barely plotted, almost found stories that grow naturally from the film footage. Everything is real here, Robert Bresson but even more pure, even more ethical. You sense that we are witnessing something that Bazin might have envisaged but has taken over a half-century to realise.
This is a reality observed with minimum intervention. There is no dialogue apart from the odd word/grunt here and there. Rituals and nature motivate the action, determine the structure of the film. All is democratic; the spiritual on a par with the physical and a tree, a dog and a herd of goats share top-billing with non-professional actors.
And Frammartino defies our expectations at every turn. Set in a sleepy Italian village in Calabria, where time seems to have stood still for centuries, we are aware of a strange contra feeling of motion, very slow admittedly but, strangely, always perceptible. An ageing herdsman awakens our fear of mortality that contrasts with a strong sense of renewal embedded in the natural processes elsewhere. Humour and sadness intertwine; particularly with the antics of a young goat guaranteed to stop you in your tracks. And there is a truly astonishing sequence with a collie dog, which will leave you pondering whether it is fiction or reality.
Sometimes delightful and charming, other times solemn and grave. But always engaging; this is slow cinema that seems to pass quickly.
There is one scene though that lodges itself into our memories in a way that it is quite unexpected and unusual for the medium. A single shot simply evokes winter in a matter of seconds before passing on to spring as the seasons come and go. No more was necessary, all was economy of cinema pared down to basics, which in an instant captured the indestructible force of nature, its still magnificence and silent isolation. It was like turning a corner in a gallery and unexpectedly encountering a Friedrich winter landscape.buy cialis canadian pharmacybuying cialis from canadacialis generic usabuy female viagra australiabuy gold max female viagrabuy female viagra ukgeneric female viagra sildenafil citratefemale viagra uk next day deliverybuy femaleviagra australia
The film closes with a village ritual that is oddly comforting and sad in its repetition at one and the same time. A fitting conclusion evoking emotions that mirror our reaction to much of what went before.