I don’t know much about truffles. I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten one—not knowingly, anyway.
However, some gourmands love truffles—and the elderly men of Piedmont, Italy, the subjects of Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw’s documentary The Truffle Hunters, know this. They search for the elusive white Alba truffle day and night, with their trusty truffle-hunting dogs at their sides.
Dweck and Kershaw don’t have a single person looking straight at the camera to tell their story; there are no talking-head interviews. Instead, the cameras follow along as these kooky guys dig in the dirt for their delicacies, or watch as a truffle dealer in a back alley tries to peddle his wares like they were heroin.
The Truffle Hunters is an amusing film, thanks to the eccentric men and their enthusiastic dogs. The directors even strap GoPros on a couple of them and let them go crazy, so we can witness the joy of the canines’ hunt POV.
Some moments seem a little staged, but that’s OK. The film has a nice narrative to it, especially with a subplot involving an 87-year-old truffle hunter who is prone to injuries and gets in trouble with the wife for truffle hunting at night.
There’s also humor to be found in the sheer admiration of the truffle, as if it were a piece of art. One particular showing has a giant truffle sitting on a red pillow, flanked by bottles of wine, while an audience admires it, cameras clicking away, onlookers applauding. These folks take their truffles seriously.
The Truffle Hunters is what one wants in a good documentary. The subjects are entertaining without even trying, so they keep the movie going forward. The film also provides some education on the world of truffles—and the dogs hilariously howl when their masters sing or drive badly, so there are plenty of good laughs, too.
The Truffle Hunters is now playing at Mary Pickford Is D’Place (36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City) and the Tristone Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert).