A film about...mushrooms? This I had to see to believe. "Now, Forager" takes its name from the Walt Whitman poem "The Untold Want." The story revolves around Lucien and Regina, who forage for mushrooms in the wilds of New Jersey to sell them on an informal basis to Manhattan restaurants. The film describes itself as a love story, but lacks the components of a true romance. As the winter comes, the dreaded frost also falls on the couple's marriage. Trouble arises when Regina wants to work for a more stable marriage while Lucien wants to remain an itinerant mushroom picker, traveling throughout the winter to South America in order to escape the frost. Despite the bleak storyline, this is a film in which the cinematography is as rich as the northern winter is barren. At times, the film turns into a confusing biology/botany lesson in which a sleep-inducing list of mushroom genus names takes up valuable time. However, the close-up shots of fungi are surprisingly beautiful. What is really important in conveying the film's message is ultimately the perfection of the dew-dropped mushrooms that causes Lucien to do anything to pick them, even if his marriage suffers as a result. This film is essentially Jason Cortlund: He writes, directs, and stars as Lucien. It is because of him that the film works well. His poignant silence throughout most of the film aside, one never feels that he lacks what is required to convey his emotions. Regina however, played by Tiffany Esteb, seems to lack any on-screen impact other than a sense of pretension and perpetual misery—she is just too hideously sad throughout to prompt anything other than a moderate distaste in the viewer. The actress who really shines plays what seems like a ham role. Gabrielle Maisels is the thoroughly spoiled wife of a conservative think-tank leader. She is so obnoxious that it is actually painful to watch her go about her daily routine of taking a disinterested view in her infant daughter while controlling her appeasing staff. I found the most interesting part of the film to be the explanation of how our food comes to us. Apart from buying organically, I didn't realize what a difference sustainability could make. Lucien and Regina depend on restaurants that want to purchase gathered mushrooms rather than those seen clad in plastic wrapping in almost every grocery store's produce aisle. The film really makes it clear that people within this city can provide for themselves using a primitive approach, albeit with a gourmet edge.
Courtesy of Argot Pictures