When viewers first encounter Regina and Lucien, they’re together in a shadowy forest hunting for mushrooms. But, as those watching the action onscreen will soon learn, they might as well be worlds apart.
But forget, for a moment, the tale of a love that is growing distant. Now, Forager, a flick playing Nov. 30-Dec. 6 at Bellingham’s Pickford Film Center, is, at its clever indie heart, a call to action for slow food devotees.
Lucien and Regina, you see, are a couple who make their living selling wild mushrooms they gather with care from dank forest floors and sell to whatever restaurants will buy them, even if they have to drive all over Manhattan—or whatever city they’re in at the moment—to do so.
And although the onscreen action takes them away from their foraging and into the “real” world, it’s difficult to forget the images, and descriptions, of the morels, lion’s mane, chanterelles and dozens of other mycological wonders the camera focuses its lingering lens on at various points throughout the movie.
If Now, Forager were a fairytale, the duo would likely be fighting a mythical villain hiding behind a mossy overgrowth in the forest. But it’s not a fairytale, or an action flick, or even a romantic comedy. Instead it is, as my viewing partner called it, “food porn with a dollop of psychodrama blended in.”
Like the slow food movement it so obviously admires and advocates, the film allows itself to unfold without ever once feeling like it’s a fast-food version of itself. As the story takes the couple throughout the seasons of one year, their marriage begins to strain against the limitations of making a living by following the vagaries of the mushroom season.
When Regina talks about taking a job at a New York City restaurant and sticking in one place for an extended period of time with the goal of perhaps finally “growing up,” Lucien balks, says they should give up their apartment, and counters with his desire to “keep heading south until spring.”
Without giving too much away, I’ll let it slip that Regina takes the job and Lucien makes his way to the Washington D.C. area to scout for mushrooms and reconnect with old friends.
In between the time they make their needs known and the end of the movie, viewers will see the duo facing rogue mushroomers with machetes, a catering job from hell, career decisions that may or may not contain big breaks and, above all, gorgeous shots and dialogue containing food-related wonders.
While any viewing of Now, Forager will contain the aforementioned goodies, those who want to learn even more about the movie—and the mushrooms—are invited to “An Evening of Film & Fungi” happening Sat., Dec. 1 at the Pickford Film Center’s Limelight Cinema.
Starting at 5:30pm, attendees are invited to make their way to the Allied Arts gallery next door for a pre-film reception. In addition to the refreshments that will be on hand, there’ll also be information from local foragers and fungi fanatics.
But that’s not all. The 6:30pm showing of the movie will include live music by Chris Brokaw, the guy who created the film’s soundtrack, and a Q & A with co-director and actor Jason Cortlund—otherwise known as Lucien. Cortlund will also introduce the 9pm show.
Additionally, moviegoers seeing any screening of Now, Forager should keep track of their ticket stubs. They can then take them to Ciao Thyme’s on.the.side café, which, in addition to featuring mushroom specials throughout the week, will also throw in a free dessert with any lunch they order at the café.
In short, if you love mushrooms, slow food and movies that don’t pander to Hollywood versions of what makes a good film, you won’t want to miss this event. If you’re not going to the reception, however, you may want to eat in advance, as you’ll be sure to leave the cinema hungry.
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