The Fruit Hunters Sports Luscious Produce


“Where we’re going we don’t need roads,” photographer-turned-fruit geek Ken Love tells fellow geek Bill Pullman as they crash through Hawaiian brush in search of the exotic. But their vehicle is no match for the vegetation, so they must make their way on foot to thrash through with machetes. Of all the metaphors this film tries on for size, this, the need for a clear road, may be the most apt. Still, amid many haphazard details and much talk of obsession, the lush work by cinematographer Mark Ellam is something of a guide, sensuous and outstanding, his macro lens showing the very female wonder of fruit. We are animals whose ovaries are deeply hidden. But fruit! Announced in the most garish of ways by flowers, fruit are literally the ovaries of the plants and trees that bear them. This sensuality—in Genesis, in history, in poetry—is the film’s great crutch, mentioned in each of The Fruit Hunters‘ chapters, regardless of theme. With all this luscious, sexy fruit in the world, why is it so hard to find a juicy peach or a snappy apple despite the abundance of our supermarkets? Chapters on “permanent global summertime” and the downsides of monoculture take up these ominous developments, but the filmmakers’ focus is fleeting. Factoids about the origins of names like Haas avocados, Macintosh apples, Clementines and Bing cherries feel like patches of solid ground, while interludes of terrible acting to illustrate fruit-related historical moments leave a bitter taste. At one point, Pullman startlingly turns down the opportunity to inhale a mango because, he says, he’s lost his sense of smell, and another unfortunate metaphor drops.