Le Quattro Volte [The Four Times] (2010, Michelangelo Frammartino) - ***½
In Michelangelo Frammartino’s second documentary-fiction, Le Quattro Volte, Pythagorean story about transmigration of the soul, of four states of being (human, animal, vegetable, and mineral) finds its way to screen. The story begins with an elderly goatherd’s daily routines frustrated by a hacking cough and ends up in a chopped pine tree to become charcoal. Full of surprises, this combination of documentary style with Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton territory (yes, exactly I mean that) is a kind of a rare movie. I love that brilliant 10-minute long take with some goats, a pickup truck, and a resourceful dog – how clever of a filmmaker to orchestrate such details with suspense and humor and playing with our expectations, on- and off-screen! There are many details to grasp, in framing and its elliptical story-telling, especially in its two first episodes. Surprises here all come in micro-level – you need to watch attentively to notice how carefully everyday routines were framed. This exciting film deserves to be seen and discussed more.
PS: David bordwell’s short review comprises some thoughtful observations of Michelangelo Frammartino’s feature. Interestingly, Bordwell examines concept of suspense with tracing it back through two opposite corners of contemporary arthouse cinema: Iranian Nader and Simin versus Le Quattro Volte.