A cute idea gets uneven treatment in Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin's amusingly titled debut, "Now, Forager: A Film About Love and Fungi."

A cute idea gets uneven treatment in Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin’s amusingly titled debut, “Now, Forager: A Film About Love and Fungi.” A lack of dramatic force and zero chemistry between the leads make the film play like a compilation of episodes rather than a flowing narrative, but two sequences are inspired, and the rest has an earnest if underwhelming appeal. Refreshingly devoid of the romantic glow emanating from most foodie pics, “Forager” presents a mycological marriage in decline without going for the cliches. Fests showcasing indie fare could add this low-budgeter to the menu.

Married mushroom pickers Lucien (co-helmer/scripter Cortlund) and Regina (Tiffany Esteb) are in crisis: He’s happy continuing their itinerant life, while she craves stability. When she takes a job as a prep chef, he heads south looking for fungi to sell to restaurants. A one-off stint as caterer for Republican faux-foodie April (Gabrielle Maisels) is a hoot, as is a scene in which Regina gets a job at a Rhode Island “Basque” diner (the “meat babies” are priceless). No-frills digital quality can’t capture the autumnal colors, but why ask for truffles when we have chanterelles?

Now, Forager: A Film About Love and Fungi

U.S.-Poland

Production

A Small Drama, Monternia.Pl production. (International sales: New Europe Film Sales, Warsaw.) Produced by Julia Halperin, Kit Bland. Co-producer, Rebbie Ratner. Directed by Jason Cortlund, Julia Halperin. Screenplay, Cortlund.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Jonathan Nastasi; editor, Halperin; music, Chris Brokaw; production designer, Cortlund, Halperin; costume designer, Amber Sexton. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Bright Future), Jan. 30, 2012. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Jason Cortlund, Tiffany Esteb, Gabrielle Maisels, Almex Lee, Jason Howard. (English dialogue)

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