“Hunter Gatherer” is a warmly eccentric little indie that’s amusing, authentic and works against expectation. But it’s writer-director Joshua Locy’s novel creation of main character Ashley, a schemer and a dreamer who just wants love and a few bucks in his pocket, combined with Andre Royo’s (“The Wire”) limber, hand-in-glove portrayal of the oddly charismatic ex-con, that make this urban dramedy so memorable.
Powered by a shaggy, distinctly 1970s vibe (Locy aptly counts the 1973 buddy-road movie “Scarecrow” as an influence), the film finds the middle-aged, blindly optimistic Ashley recently released after serving three years in prison for an undisclosed crime, living with his impatient mom (Celestial) in her modest South Los Angeles home and trying to put his old life, such as it was, back together. This includes generating income and reclaiming ex-girlfriend Linda (Ashley Wilkerson), who’s decidedly moved on with local garbage man Dwayne (Antonio D. Charity).
Joining Ashley in his quixotic quest is new sidekick Jeremy (George Sample III), an amenable, slightly slow young swimming enthusiast who, thanks to possessing a pickup truck, helps Ashley launch a DIY business reselling used refrigerators. Their unlikely friendship is the cement here, captivating in all its mismatched randomness.
Locy weaves in other vivid folks and situations: Ashley’s new girlfriend, Nat (Kellee Stewart), who’s also seeing motel owner Ray (Kevin Jackson); Jeremy’s unsettling job as a medical testee, his mission to fix his dying granddad’s homemade respirator, Ashley’s cursive handwriting class, an impulsive stereo purchase and much more.
It’s all engagingly presented with a kind of lived-in realism that occasionally, and less successfully, veers into the surreal. A pensive ending that’s open to interpretation reminds us that there are no easy answers to life’s more difficult paths.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Playing: The Cinefamily at Silent Movie Theatre, Los Angeles