“The Truffle Hunters” is a heartfelt documentary about a group of elderly men in Italy who hunt for the rare Alba truffle. Any of these men would be great at a party after hunting these mushrooms. After all he is such a ‘fungi’ (fun guy)…
This really is a beautifully scenic view of a little piece of the world still set in traditions and old-fashioned ways. This documentary follows a very small group of much older men (mostly ages 70 and above) who search for truffles. In the mountainous region of Piedmont, Italy — they go forth with specially trained dogs. These little groups hunt for a rare delicacy called the Alba mushroom truffle.
The ‘Star Trek’ version of this documentary: “The Trouble with Truffles”…
There is not much explained by this movie, except seeing the bits and pieces of this little slice of a bygone life. Each group, the man and his dogs, goes out each day (and sometimes at night) to dig up these small pieces of culinary gold. There are many wonderful shots of the forest locations. Each man has his own little special spot, where truffles can be found. These are men who do not farm and do not ranch. They don’t cultivate and do not raise livestock. They only have one goal – locate and bring back as many truffles as can be found.
If you sat on one on of these special mushrooms, would it hurt? Yes, because ‘Truffles have Ridges’…
There are little glimpses of the ‘industry’ that surrounds the market of the mushroom. The buyers and sellers of these unique truffles have gotten into calm and steady rhythm. The movie does not identify most of they people by name, but by the conversations you get to know most of the hunters. Each one has a fascinating back-story and lifestyle. However, not much of it display here. There is a scene of a wild ‘Truffle Auction’ and you can get an idea of how the buyers try to haggle the price down when they deal with the hunters.
If Steve Irwin was still alive and he moved from Australia to Northern Italy, he could be the “Truffle-dile Hunter”…
The real stars of this documentary are the dogs that these men have trained to sniff out the underground treasures. Each man treats his dog(s) as if they are part of the family. In most cases, they are. Many of these men are well into retirement age, but they only know this life. This is the life that suits them. Some trips are not worth the time, and other trips they can strike a rich vein of truffle gold. But all the while, they are never alone — their dogs are business partners, as well as friends.
All jokes aside, this is a gorgeous movie in the way it is shot and the way that the special characteristics of each of the hunters is displayed. They are a singular group of men in this village, and it shows that they are very secretive about their special hunting grounds. The movie does not get too deep into the reasons why this truffle is so renowned. It is just a given that chefs from around the world crave this unusual fungus.
Directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw have created an oil painting come to life. They have found one of most singular jobs in the world, and made these elderly men the showcase for what “off the grid” must be like. There is not the normal style of a typical documentary, where people and places are named and categorized. Instead, it moves and flows like a lazy river, echoing the lifestyles of the subjects.
“The Truffle Hunters”, as a documentary, might be a bit like the subject of this hunt. It could be an acquired taste. But if you enjoy seeing the beauty of nature, and the strong bonds between these men and the dogs who allow them to make their living – it will be a scrumptious feast indeed.
The Truffle Hunters
Directed by: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw
Music by: Ed Côrtes
Edited by: Charlotte Munch Bengtsen
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Release date: March 5, 2021
Length: 84 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for some strong language