A low-key, offhand drama about the wages of providing fodder for locavore foodies, “Now, Forager: A Film About Love And Fungi,” shot across a single year, traces the seasons of a jerky, incompatible couple who attempt to augment their living and sustain a relationship by going into the woods and appeasing the “mushroom gods.” As written by lead Jason Cortlund and directed by Cortlund and Julia Halperin, the wages of work together are minimal for foragers Lucien and Regina as they move earth and leaves in the New Jersey woodlands to sustain themselves and patrons at fashionable restaurants. Call it a slow-food slow-drama. It’s a sweet, clever notion. The directors’ wide, loose frames never grow slack, but instead capture in a casual, unemphatic fashion the dynamics between the pair, and within the essential heat of a kitchen. Yet “Now, Forager” is unromantic in every aspect: its gentle camera style and pace is matched by unremarkable, often enervating performances from Cortlund and Tiffany Esteb. While “Now, Forager” seems in a school with Kelly Reichardt’s “Old Joy” and “Wendy and Lucy,” it’s actually parked in a trailer in the woods off to the side of the road a few miles down thataway. 93m. HD video. (Ray Pride)
“Now, Forager” plays Friday-Monday and Tuesday-Wednesday at Siskel. Cortlund appears Friday.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.