Another man (Aurelio), this one married, tramps through the woods with a cane and a dog, singing a ribald song to himself: “If you figure me out, my dear husband, I’ll make it up to you!” We follow these two figures in a series of long, hyper-aestheticized takes, as they relive past glories and generally refuse to back down to anybody (not even his wife, Maria). These older guys know all there is to know about their business, so their behavior is sort of absurd, especially if you look at it from an outsider’s perspective.
Thankfully, Dweck and Kershaw also seem to like their characters (such as they are) enough to pick up on their individual quirks and hang-ups. I love almost every scene featuring Angelo, a 78-year-old farmer and poet with a wispy beard and a black beret who boasts about his past life as a womanizing acrobat. Angelo’s a consummate fish story salesman (“I enchanted them[…]I walked on stilts, that’s fascinating”), and watching him talk himself up is often a pleasure.
Angelo’s even funny when he’s the butt of the filmmakers’ (mostly affectionate) jokes, like when he’s trying to write a letter to an unspecified younger audience, and, with each sip of his wine, seems to take longer to make a point (any point). “We need to teach the youth,” he says. “We need to go back to 50 years ago.” Then he pauses to scan his keyboard for a moment, and resumes: “When to undress a woman, you had to take ten … dresses and four petticoats off.” The man’s 78 years old, but funny is funny.
I wish I could say the same thing about the scene where Angelo impatiently waves away smooth-talking (and relatively young) truffle seller Gianfranco. Or the scene where Carlo takes his time consuming an expensive-looking truffle dish, and, after a few long seconds of chewing pasta and listening to Enrico Caruso sing an aria from Tosca, he decides: “I like it. Very good.” Thankfully, despite its creators’ general fussiness, “The Truffle Hunters” is good enough, if only because guys like Carlo and Angelo are more charming than they are eccentric.