Cactus soup and Chilean spirit quests dominate Crystal Fairy
Michael Cera’s wise to stop taking the same role over and over again. That’s not to say he’s bad at it — his scrawny frame and flawless skin paired with that eternally high-pitched mumble mean he’ll be perfect as the bumbling high-school buddy deep into his thirties. Still at 25 he’s trying to break out of the Superbad / Scott Pilgrim vs. The World / Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist mould by taking on weirder projects from bizarre sorta funny short films released through the YouTube comedy channel JASH to collaborating with Chilean indie auteur Sebastián Silva.
Crystal Fairy also known as Crystal Fairy & The Magic Cactus and 2012 is the first of two films shot under the direction of Silva. While Cera was living with Silva and his brothers to learn Spanish for their second collaboration the psychological thriller Magic Magic Crystal Fairy underwent a week of pre-production with Silva giving the actress Gaby Hoffmann some brief character descriptions over the phone before she joined them in Chile to play the titular Crystal Fairy.
Ironically despite his best efforts Cera’s lead Jamie is almost certainly what would happen to one of his bumbling disenfranchised teen characters when they got older — an entitled 20-something on a supposed journey of self-discovery in Chile though he’s really just doing tons of blow and driving everyone around him crazy. When he first meets the free-spirited over-the-top hippie Crystal Fairy (Hoffman playing an equally realistic and annoying 20-something) he’s trying to stop her from her free-spirited over-the-top hippie dancing. “You’re embarrassing yourself” he says.
Still Jamie’s coked out enough to find Crystal charming so he invites her on a trip the next day where he and his three Chilean buddies (played by Juan Andrés Silva José Miguel Silva and Agustín Silva the director’s real-life brothers) plan to trip balls on some mescaline-heavy soup made from the psychotropic San Pedro cactus.
Stuck in closed quarters Crystal and Jamie’s worst characteristics are magnified much to the chagrin of each other and the Silva brothers. As time goes on they become increasingly tiresome. Thankfully despite expert performances from both they aren’t so realistically irritating as to make the film itself irritating. When they finally do procure some of the drug they head out to the beach to get high by the ocean.
That’s about it really. Yes there is some important character development and right before the film fades to black the characters reveal what’s behind their manufactured personae but this is ultimately a small simple film. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Crystal Fairy looks fantastic packed with creative engaging camerawork and breathtaking Chilean landscapes. It also boasts fantastic acting with Cera and Hoffman doing wonders with the film’s loose story (there was no script only an outline to get them from scene to scene). Basically if you want to watch a naturalistic film where a selfish mid-20s George Michael Bluth gets high in the Chilean desert and finds himself Crystal Fairy is your best bet.