THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS
THREE AND A HALF STARS A number of Italian men go hunting for food gold, the humble truffle.
DOCUMENTARY Italian Language US / Italy #THETRUFFLEHUNTERS
Hunting for truffles, as it transpires, is a job for the elderly. This stylised documentary follows the endeavours of several such highly spirited Italian men who, with eager hounds, scrabble in autumnal dirt in search of the elusive root. And with good cause. A few hundred grammes can be unsold through a truffle dealer for thousands of euros to restauranteurs, celebrities and presidents worldwide. No wonder the hunters seem so chirpy.
Directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw choose not to interview any of the participants, nor indulge us with narration or voiceover. Instead, the hunters are simply (in a beautifully art-directed kind of way) presented going about the business of locating truffles. We meet their dogs, their spouses and friends and are treated to a glimpse of a way of life that is slowly ebbing away. It’s also a highly competitive one. A retiring hunter refuses to reveal his ‘patch’, a secret he’d rather take to the grave than pass on to the next generation (or the truffle broker who’s desperate to protect future supply lines). The intrigue is fascinating.
As are the relationships between man and dog, and in the case of one not-so-young hunter, man and wife. It’s here that THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS is at its best, revealing human warmth, humour and intimacy in a series of tender, joyous moments. The deliberately slow-pace and self-conscious framing won’t be to everyone’s taste, yet those who welcome the film’s heartfelt embrace of a little know world will be thoroughly rewarded.