It won the Label Europa Cinemas award at Cannes, a special silver ribbon from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists and was nominated for a bunch of David di Donatello awards. New York Times film critic A. O. Scott made it a NYT Critics’ Pick and called it remarkable and “endlessly mysterious”.
I fast forwarded through a lot of it and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Le quattro volte, the four times, a 2010 film by Michelangelo Frammartino that is now available from Amazon.com and Netflix is beautiful – but tedious. It’s the kind of movie you are supposed to like, the kind that pretentious film critics go wild over, the kind that film snobs might suggest my tastes are not sufficiently refined to appreciate – and the kind that would be easier to just lie and say I loved.
It’s about an old man who lives alone in a sparsely populated medieval hilltop village in Calabria tending his goats the way he has for years, as did his father and grandfather before him. For about a quarter of the movie, he takes his goats up into the hills to graze, brings them back at night, and then puts himself to bed. He coughs a lot and you just know nothing good is going to come of that.
When the old man dies, a goat is born ( Is the baby goat supposed to be the old man reincarnated? I was too bored to look for symbolism ) and then the goat lives its goat life for a while until it gets lost and dies. Sweet old men that die and dead baby goats make me really sad – and not in a good way.
Hope I’m not ruining the story for you.
The rest of the movies is about a tree and a bunch of guys making charcoal. There’s no dialogue – hey, at least there are no subtitles! The details of the lives of the animate and inanimate in this movies, the window into a the day-to-day world that is so far away from mine should be pretty cool – but it isn’t. Maybe I missed the point – but I don’t think so.