"Now, Forager" from directors Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin, takes place in the world of itinerant food workers. The married couple we meet at the beginning, rooting for wild mushrooms in New Jersey's woodlands are beginning to feel the instability of a pick-and-sell, slow-food lifestyle that doesn't fully pay the bills.
Lucien (Cortlund, who also wrote) proposes doubling down on their nomadic existence, while Regina (Tiffany Esteb) — to her husband's snobbish dismay — turns to employment in the kitchen of a chic restaurant. It's hardly a penetrating look at a fraying relationship — Lucien's know-it-all prickliness and Regina's hunger for community and advancement hardly seem a fit from the get-go. But the movie is serious about its food world authenticity, from the occasional nature-film digressions into fungal varieties (the end credits even feature a wild mushroom health-hazard alert) to details about cooking, harvesting and restaurant work.
We see them clash with others, as well, when Lucien takes a catering job for a demanding society housewife (a fantastic Gabrielle Maisels), and Regina gets hired at a self-proclaimed "Basque" restaurant where "authentic" cuisine doesn't go over well with diners who just want the usual.
Despite an awkwardly jokey title, "Now, Forager" has charm, intelligence and a cool passion for its principled characters — an appealing off-menu slice for hungry indie admirers.
"Now, Forager." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.