THE FRUIT HUNTERS (Yung Chang). See director interview Yung Chang. Rating: NNN
Yung Chang follows the moody, contemplative China Heavyweight with this globe-trotting look at exotic fruit enthusiasts who seek to rescue, preserve and cultivate their favourite delectables. One of them is the actor Bill Pullman, whose attempts to create a community orchard on unused land in his Hollywood Hills neighbourhood give the documentary its narrative spine.
If you’ve ever wondered why people eat the foul-smelling durian or what drives a person to trek into Borneo in search of a spiky plumlike thing seen only in photographs, you’ll find plenty to like in The Fruit Hunters. Just be warned that it’s a little more whimsical than Chang’s previous projects, and whimsy isn’t something the director does terribly well.
Costume drama tableaux illustrating ancient cultures’ relationship to fruit and the occasional cutesy animation (as when Pullman envisions his dream orchard and is showered with CG apples, oranges and apricots) are a little too cheesy to sit comfortably with Chang’s contemplative voice-over about how fruit studies us as much as we study it.
But as The Fruit Hunters demonstrates, there’s no accounting for taste.