A trip worth taking?
Star – Michael Cera
Genre – comedy
Run Time – 98 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Awards – 1 Win & 4 Nominations
Amazon – £5.74 DVD £5.70 Blue Ray
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Inspired by a Chillan road trip and a fateful brush with a woman who called herself ‘Crystal Fairy’, director Sebastian Silva decided to make a movie about that experience. Chilean Silva bought us a really enjoyable film called The Maid and so when I saw this hybrid Chilean American film I thought I would. Anyone who has been backpacking or travelling will know all about these student type characters that get all hippy and out there away from mom and dad and university and so well recognize Crystal. They are rather annoying.
It stars Michael Cera, an indie comedy actor in the Jessie Eisenburg mould, who can pick some quirky movies. He is really good in Superbad and Nick and Norah’s Playlist and most known for Juno and Scott Pilgrim Saves the world but tailed off after Youth in Revolt. He decided to live with the Silva family in Chile for several months to prepare for his role in this one. I don’t know why as the role if pretty straightforward but he is obviously going a bit method as the good scripts dry up and Jessie Eisenberg gets the rest.
Michael Cera ... Jamie
Gaby Hoffmann ... Crystal Fairy
Juan Andrés Silva ... Champa
Agustín Silva ... Pilo
José Miguel Silva ... Lel
Sebastián Silva ... Lobo
Jamie (Cera) is a self-absorbed and obnoxious young American traveling around Chile and is keen to experience the mysteries of the San Pedro cactus, a local hallucinogen. He is going with his male Chilean friends Champa (Juan Andrés Silva), Pel (Agustín Silva) and Lel (José Miguel Silva) on the road trip. But at party on the night before the trip Jami meets a crazy American hippy girl called Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann) and invites her on the trip. The other lads are not impressed
The car is almost full and the next day Jamie tries to wiggle out of meting her in the agreed place but Champa doesn’t think its right to let her down as she is relying on them, a local square in a small town that place where she has already upset the locals with her antics when they pull up to find her.
The New Age young and not that pretty woman - now dubbed "Crystal Hairy" after she strips off in front of them in the motel on the first night - is soon testing everyone's patience by her antics. But they are on a mission to take the San Pedro and here to enjoy themselves and soon trying to buy one of the locals, who grow them in their gardens for the same reason. But no luck so Jamie steals one and they had to the beach to partake in the ritual as they set up their tents and Jamie prepares the cactus juice drink. But will the plant have a psychotropic influence on them and chill them out and bring them closer together and actual get on with Crystal Fairy, who is naked again and not in need of any cactus to be out of her head.
You may think you have had an “amazing experience” backpacking in somewhere exotic but it may not be that amazing to anyone else and so not the sort of thing other people care about, especially people like me who has done the backpacking thing to death and no all about these annoying hippy types in the film. It does not make for a thrilling interesting film. It’s Danny Boyles ‘The Beach’ all over again for me.
Gaby Hoffman, not the sexiest of actresses, says she had no problem with her gratuitous nudity in the film thanks to growing up in a "naked house." She reminds me of some annoying characters I met traveling and some women you don’t want to see naked. Most of the dialogue was improvised by the actors or fed to them by the director just before a take and it shows, a very dialogue led movie and as shaky as the wobbly cameras in places. There are a lot of subtitles to tackle to.
If you don’t like the style of movie and caustic humor early on will not like the rest of it, a touch smug and not as clever and knowing as it thinks it is. Eating cacti is the sport of thing Beavis & Butthead do. There just isn’t the interesting little indie film here this thinks it is. Cera’s character is meant to be the annoying American abroad in the film but annoying anyway. It is over-the-top and spoils the film some as dos the ghastly Crystal Fairy. Cera is better than this but in real life Michael Cera was apparently an obnoxious irritant who blew coke in people's faces and so a lot like this character in his latest movie. That drug habit could be why he chose this movie.
I find it weird how some people can get money to make small films like this and a star ready to jump on board. There must be better things to spend it on. Its not bad film but it’s a nothing film in the end. The subtitles didn’t help and why it only took $345,234 dollars I guess.
Imdb.com – 5.8/10.0 (6,794votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 81% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 67% critic’s approval
Guardian –‘Stretches of improv with passers-by means the film can resemble one of those What the Director Did on His Holidays doodles, yet its breeziness is oddly warming: Silva's open to the elements in ways his blinkered protagonist only claims to be’
Daily telegraph –‘While never hugely memorable, it's funny and engaging in the moment’.
Financial Times –‘The film's effect, probably like that of the San Pedro cactus, is pleasant, dreamy, hippy-evanescent and very años sesenta’.
The Film Stage –‘Crystal Fairy is all about that uneasy destination: never in sight but always on the edge of perception.’
Boston Herald –‘Low-key, naturalistic and original, Sebastian Silva's study of two Americans finding their way in Chile is an often funny, always compelling journey that rings true’.
Movie Mezzanine -It's a messy film, but it hits more than it misses, sometimes landing on something emotionally resonant’.
The List –‘Silva fails to cook up anything more than unfulfilled potential in this half-baked movie’.