Review this movie
Dec 26, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. "Crystal Fairy" is a road trip taken by two of the ugliest Americans to ever trod a cinematic foreign country. Their goal: Mescaline and spiritual discovery – or closer to the truth, themselves.
Comedy star Michael Cera, Jamie, showcases trademark Allenesque neuroses, whining and flat affect in a role based on the experiences of Director Sebastián Silva. The reversal is Silva was a native while Cera is an interloper of whom it is asked, "Did you travel to (beautiful) Chile just for the San Pedro (the cactus harvested for Mescaline)?" The answer is a resounding yes, and there is nothing he won't do to get it, including stealing cactus from a lonely, mentally challenged woman.
Gaby Hoffman, Crystal Fairy, is a pontificating Sixties throwback who wanders about in the nude and chastises people about their food choices (while drinking Coke). She's also an unwanted (by Cera) barnacle clinging to the trip which includes three native brothers. (The scenes of the brothers trying to look like they're not gawking at the nude Hoffman in a hotel room are hilarious.)
Cera's performance is admirable but his usual one-note. Hoffman easily outshines him.
The improvised dialogue adds immediacy and verisimilitude while masking the bitter subtext; Neo-Colonialism and Financial Imperialism. Like "Tony Manero" (a film crediting thanks to Silva), United States' influence and interference lightly greases this story's wheels.
Unlike "Tony Manero," "Crystal Fairy" adds character arcs: Cera departs his obnoxious head to find self-acceptance and a heart recognizing Fairy's inner beauty; Fairy discovers her healing powers cannot reanimate a dead animal and the world just might not end in 2012. She also finds acceptance of the sexual abuse leading her to a life as a strap-on wearing Dominatrix.
The Chilean brothers are antithetical to the Gringos. Their portrayals are a given as they're natives of the country of the film's origin, but their counterpoint makes Cera and Hoffman all the more ridiculous.
To say "Crystal Fairy" is a comedy (stoner or otherwise), twisted love story or angry gringo-invective is to sell the film short. This is a sweet, abstract film with multiple layers and a few very fine moments. The film plants itself in the psyche – much like Mescaline. Giving in to the film's charms results in a feeling you actually tripped along.
Multiple viewings may help in understanding off-the-cuff lines delivered sotto voce. And the abrupt, unsatisfying ending is a shortcoming. There is a movement to cut to black and end films with ambiguity. To feed post-viewing conversation and debate? Whether lazy, uninspired, unmotivated or ill-advised, an ambiguous ending cheats the audience. ("The Birds" notwithstanding.)
A welcome respite to noisy, tent-pole, superhero entertainment, joining this troupe on the road is definitely worth the ninety minute trip – straight or high.… Expand
Part drug comedy, part psychological drama, the movie is slight, but only superficially so. As the closing credits role, we’re left not with a sense of a day at the beach, but of what might be swimming out there, in the dark of the abyss.