SUNDANCE: Crystal Fairy (**)


Crystal-Fairy_510x317Ever wonder what the sexual looseness of Y Tu Mama Tambien and the tropes of American films about kids getting drugs would be? Well if you did, you’d certainly be the type of audience member that a film like Crystal Fairy craves. However, if you are any kind of discerning filmgoer or stone cold sober, you will probably find this movie to just be a meandering mess that doesn’t cohere its many orbiting parts. Michale Cera stars as Jaime, an American traveling in Chile, who ropes his friends into going on an adventure to try the legendary hallucinogen called the San Pedro Cactus. This simply plan gets more complicated when Crystal Fairy, a girl he drunkenly met at a party, joins the group on their journey. Chaos ensues and (forced) breakthroughs are made in the 100 minute running time of the film.

There are many problems with this film and all of them are derived from a pretty lackluster script. For a movie that’s so reliant on situational comedy, the movie doesn’t take any real time developing it’s characters, instead substituting general character development for one-liners that don’t work and forced exposition. That’s not to say that the film is un-funny, I laughed quite a bit, but the “realistic” feel didn’t really help. The true problem with the film is that it meanders so much you don’t know which elements to grab on and then at the end it forces you to grasp a particular plot development that doesn’t jive with rest of the picture. While I was certainly glad the film concluded with each character getting a moment to shine, but it didn’t truly feel organic to the story.

Michael Cera is never not Michael Cera in films, even those set in a foreign country. His shtick does wring a few laughs, especially once he’s on the peote. Gaby Hoffman gives what many consider being a “brave” performance due to the nudity and weirdness of the role. Unfortunately the script does her no favors as it crams her entire character reveal into the last 10 minutes. One of the few bright spots in the movie are the three Silva brothers (Juan Andres, Jose Miguel and Augustin, respectively). All first time actors, two of which don’t speak english well, they imbue the film with a much needed authenticity and heart. I definitely would mind seeing a story about them or just the actors in other films.

The cinematography is one of the few bright spots as Christian Petit Laurent manages to capture some beautiful images and Sebastian Silva shows a competence behind the camera that with a better script could yield some interesting results. The two of them manage to mine every ounce of awkwardness from the tale and give the film a great energy.