(Drama – 1 hour 30 minutes – Director/Writer: Joshua Locy – Starring: Andre Royo, George Sample III, Jeanetta Arnette, Ashley Wilkerson, Kellee Stewart, Antonio D. Charity)
After being away for 3 years in prison, Ashley (Andre Royo) returns home to resume his life. He quickly finds out that his girlfriend (“Linda”- Ashley Wilkerson) has moved on and his mother has tired of his shenanigans. Still pining for Linda, he attempts to put his life back together and makes a friend along the way.
It’s a simple story about a simple man. A guy makes a mistake and does his time. When he returns home he wants things to be the way they used to be.
The way they used to be…
Ashley spends the rest of the film learning that sometimes that isn’t possible. He—and by virtue, the film—struggles with accepting the concept of being a peace with not just the past but the present.
That theme isn’t solely manifested with Ashley’s attempt to win back Linda.
It is important, difficult, terrifying to be okay with what is left in one’s life after trauma. Death, divorce, break-ups, loss of employment can all be catastrophic. They leave indelible stars on survivors. Coming to terms with reality is an untenable task for millions of people.
Ashley is essentially a man-child. He never passed the third grade. He put his ex-girlfriend Linda on a pedestal. She represents unrequited perfect love. In an attempt to revive the relationship, he writes her a note in the same vein that children would to a crush. In a heartbreaking scene, the camera watches Ashley leave a note at her door and scurry across the street to observe her read it. Through the living room window, he sees her, her friend, and new boyfriends read the letter and mock him.
The idea of junk technology as means to achieve a goal pervades the film. When he can’t find a job, Ashley transports people’s old refrigerators for a profit. His pal Jeremy’s grandfather is dying. He built his own respiration machine out of old parts of various devices. When Ashley is attempting to woo Linda, he buys her an old stereo from a pawn shop.Even his friendship with the developmentally delayed Jeremy fits the theme. Both men are scuffed up and undesirable but find kinship with one another. Broken and unwanted items can be repurposed and forged into something good and useful.
The film is rife with desperation and disappointment. Even when something good does happen, Ashley throws the opportunity away. He meets the stunning “Nat” (played by Kellee Stewart) and the two begin a relationship. She likes and understands Ashley. He quickly warns her that he has another love in his life. She agrees to a relationship that stipulates Linda first but it soon proves to be poison.
Hunter Gatherer is a remarkable film. It is filled with terrific performances, interesting characters, and themes that will stick with you long after you leave the theater.
I think we have all been guilty of wanting more or putting too much value on a person or dream that is only destined to let us down. There is something to be said about the ability to genuinely appreciate the present and to suss value from the imperfect. Some of the finest treasures are hidden beneath a thin veneer of rust.
You can miss out on the entire world simply by not opening your eyes.