Lorello and Brunello: Challenging globalisation
by Roberto Oggiano
- The new documentary by Jacopo Quadri, a philosophical reflection on the passing of the seasons that praises the idea of returning to work on the land, is competing at the 35th Torino Film Festival
The new film by Jacopo Quadri, Lorello and Brunello [+see also:
film profile], which is in competition at the 35th edition of Torino Film Festival, describes the passing of the seasons through the daily lives of two middle-aged farmer twins, Lorello and Brunello, who live in Tuscany along with their relatives who feature in the film with their various reflections on nature and time, dictated by “peasant wisdom” and the somewhat dull truisms which said wisdom derives from. Pastures, ploughed fields and animals complete the picture by claiming space and imposing their own rhythms on man and the film. The documentary talks about the contrast between the globalised world and the rural world, or rather the impact that the invasion of the former has on the latter. The director narrates the documentary in four parts, with the four seasons that mark the natural course of life threatened by various dangers, such as weather conditions, a capitalist economy that focuses on wealth and the wolves that surround their small farm (which is where the metaphor becomes somewhat obvious).
Despite its title, the documentary’s main character is Maremma’s Grosseto, guardian of ancient knowledge, which must pay a high price in order to withstand modern times. The economic difficulties and health problems that come with a lifetime of work are exposed towards the end of the film, along with the bitterness of Ultimina's final monologue, filled with loneliness and regret, revealing the complete absence of a new generation to carry on their trade. The depopulation of rural areas in Italy is a pressing issue in the face of an increasingly global society.
The immense effort to occupy about one hundred hectares of land, the slowness of sowing and harvesting, and the dirtiness of manual labour in the countryside are only roughly sketched out because the author, betrayed by the impatience of showing a trade that pans out over several centuries, fills just over an hour and twenty minutes with short dialogues that work well as a narrative device but lack spontaneity, indicating a surplus of mis-en-scène. The small distractions employed by the two brothers, such as games of rock-paper-scissors or eating with friends, are used to punctuate work in the fields rather than as a way of building an overall anthropological portrait of the rural community that the author is pretending to depict.
Despite a certain assumption that the director is returning to film the noble and necessary countryside, the documentary suffers from a superficiality that often accompanies this type of work. An attempt to give a touch of poetry to the film only succeeds in one particular night-time scene, which is punctuated with the music of Philip Glass, and is admittedly very poetic. But the rest of the film acts as a not particularly thorough or consistent description of the various life-long activities of the two protagonists, with rare intervals depicting scenes of family life that don’t carry any specific mystery, but only really serve to flatten the narration of everyday banality.
The hope is that people will continue to talk about depopulation, change and migration. A film like Lorello and Brunello, even if not created from a typically aesthetic point of view, still offers an important contribution.
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