The urban world’s yearning for a supposedly simpler era is resulting in a vogue for pastoral subjects, exemplified by Marco Bonfanti’s “The Last Shepherd.” Falling under the hazy label of “creative documentary,” the pic follows Renato Zucchelli, one of the last of his kind, as he moves his sheep from mountainous pastures to literally the center of Milan. Combining reality with obviously scripted passages meant to emphasize fairy-tale elements of Zucchelli’s life, Bonfanti is saved from accusations of twee manipulation thanks to his subject’s natural ebullience. Fests and ancillary will flock together.
Shepherding doesn’t run in Zucchelli’s family: He chose this profession, much against the expectations of his elders. Because it’s his true calling, the hefty pastoralist is the perfect proselytizer for a way of life fast disappearing in the Western world. Together with toothless older associate Piero Lombardi, Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote (and possibly equally fictional), Zucchelli brings his flock from sylvan meadows to the suburban home he shares with wife, Lucia, and their four kids, en route to a lovely finale. Trimming inadvertent mockumentary bits would increase viewing pleasure.