My review is available here (as of June 2011), and also reproduced below. My original copy was edited so that “off-putting” was changed to “obtuse” – doesn’t make much sense to me as “obtuse” doesn’t make any sense in this context. But I do what people tell me (in return for complimentary cinema tickets).
Review (Different Version)
Le Quattro Volte (‘the four times’) is a quiet and meditative film about life in a small medieval village in Calabria, Southern Italy. Perhaps not to everyone’s tastes, it is a treat if you’re in a contemplative mood and can accept it on its own terms.
By day, an elderly shepherd tends to his goats on the hills surrounding the village. By night, he drinks a strange mixture which he believes will cure his sickness – dust collected from the floor of the village church, mixed into his drinking water. After his somewhat inevitable death, attention shifts to his surroundings. His mischievous dog unwittingly releases the herd of goats. A new goat is born, and takes its first steps. A tree is felled, for use in a local festival, and charcoal is made using traditional methods.
Le Quattro Volte is unhurried and reflective, taking its time to reveal its linkages and secrets. There is no dialogue, though plenty of excellent animal direction. Framed with exquisite precision and patience, Frammartino has directed a beautiful ode to the cyclical nature of life, from birth to death, and the inter-connectedness of nature and the seasons.
Never feeling forced or contrived, the filmis humorous, touching, and original. Some may find the lack of dialogue and conventional plot off-putting, but I thoroughly enjoyed its depiction of the rhythms of a Calabrian village.