Lucien Echevarría: "Amanita bisporigera : the destroying angel. Vomiting. Cramps. Bloody diarrhea. Liver and kidney failure. Death."By Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin
With Jason Cortlund and Tiffany Esteb
A relatively unknown movie, I was automatically intrigued by the synopsis as well as the cover. Such an original topic had to mean an original film. I was also interested by the fact that Jason Cortlund assumes the roles of director, writer and actor. A feat that requires a lot and only a few have pulled off, it made me want to try and see for myself.
Lucien and Regina are a couple of Basque ancestry living in New York. They live their life outside of a consumerist society, making a living of finding and selling wild mushrooms. This makes them tributary to the seasons. One day they manage to sell all their mushrooms to a single restaurant and the holder tells them he's looking for an help in the kitchen. Regina decides to go for it putting in question Lucien's desires to travel the world to follow the mushrooms' seasons. Lucien thinks of Regina's work as selling out and decides to go on a trip alone, but the cost of life or gas will put him to the test and they will both have to make compromises in order to survive.
The movie is beautiful both visually and in its presentation of a different way of living. The close up shots of mushrooms are quite intense and metaphorical as they may be interpreted as an analogy for human behaviors. I really enjoyed the food even if it is at time shown in such a way that it makes you percieve the deviance from the ideals of what Lucien considers as a true cuisine it is a testimony to a character that holds such hard ideals and the possibility or impossibility to have them cope with reality. The title, Now, Forager, seemed quite mysterious to me but before the credits the quote which it mirrors, taken from a poem of Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass (1855), sheds some light on it :
The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.
The character of Lucien is quite complex and at first it just seems like he is grouchy or that his portrayal is one-dimensional, however, as the movie developed I could see how the character is an idealist with no desire to bend to any compromise. The relationship with Regina suffers from the same well as an idealist in his work will usually behave the same way in a relationship and the fact that Regina desires to go for more insurance is considered a threat to Lucien's personality. There are many metaphors to mimic this and other human behaviors and I think it is best to let everyone finds the ones that resonate the most in the movie.
The movie has some flaws, for example, the couple is not recently married and they must have been through tough times before, living on the seasons like that yet it seems that it strikes them out of the blue. I also think some of the secondary characters were caricatures just to picture an excess or another, usually to hit on the nerves of one of the main character and test their limits.
However, to me Jason Cortlund successfully signs a beautiful and original film, a feat even bigger considering he sets off in original tracks with a seemingly unknown topic and wears the multiple hats of an actor, writer, director. The credits seem to induce that the movie was brought to life through the website Kickstarter, something I take as a brilliant thing, simply because it shows that new writers and directors can hope to one day achieve a full length movie through such sponsorship.
I liked: Original topic. Beautiful food and nature. Uncompromising characters. Metaphorical.
I disliked : Annoying secondary characters.
As one who shies away from movies about relationships, this one was a breath of wild fresh air. Innovative!