You can imagine Bill Murray, Bob Balaban and co ageing up for a Wes Anderson version of this stupidly delightful dog-umentary about elderly truffle hunters roaming Italy’s misty, picture-box Piedmont. It’s full of symmetrical Anderson-like compositions, memorable characters and offbeat laughs. And stitched in are some smart, fly-on-the-wall observations about the often-abrasive relationship between capitalism and tradition too.
At its heart are the rare white alba truffles, much-prized subterranean treasures sniffed out by dogs and their venerable masters. Pitfalls abound, including poisoned baits, dodgy truffle dealers and youngsters trying to winkle their secret spots out of them.
But alongside these gentle ruminations on a traditional way of life, co-directors Gregory Kershaw and Michael Dweck dig into the cutthroat global market for truffles and find striking visual contrasts between the two worlds. One minute, we’re tearing through fairytale forests via canine-cam (forget Gravity, let’s have a whole movie with just a GoPro’ed-up dog); the next, an unscrupulous deal is being struck in a dark alley. The Truffle Hunters is far too charming to bellow its distaste for all this greed. But, like these doting hunters, it knows who man’s best friend really is. And it’s not money.