“Crystal Fairy” is one of those movies that is so offensive, you begin to feverishly grasp for tangible evidence of good in its characters even though there isn’t any to find. From drugged out hipsters to annoying free-spirited nudists, Sebastian Silva’s awkward comedy is obscure for all the wrong reasons. Oh, but it was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year. At least the film has that going for it!
Michael Cera plays Jamie, a high-strung, nasally American tourist visiting his friends Champa (Juan Andres Silva), Lel (Jose Miguel Silva), and Pilo (Agustin Silva) in Chile. Jamie is a drug connoisseur of the highest degree, and spends most of the first act of the film complaining about how awful Chilean coke is. Whenever the petulant Jamie isn’t gabbing about the quality — or lack thereof — of a particular white powder, he’s whining about other facets of life: temperature… women… friends. After his buddies decide to take a road trip north in order to search for the hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus, Jamie finds one more thing to moan about.
Like a kid who can’t comprehend the tradition of waiting for Christmas Day to open up presents, Jamie eagerly joins his friends, but is immediately disappointed by how long it takes to actually track down the trippy cacti. During one of his many drugged out episodes of wanton self-deprivation, Jamie makes matters worse for himself by taking the initiative to invite Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann) along on their road trip.
With a carefree disposition that would rival any Haight-Ashbury denizen, Crystal agrees to come along for the ride… and the free drugs. Crystal represents everything Jamie is not, and because of that, the two do not get along whatsoever. She is, however, supposed to be the emotional core of the film. She has to be right? With Michael Cera’s unlikable turn as Jamie, and the one-dimensional Champa, Lel, and Pilo, there really isn’t anyone else in the film for the audience to connect with. Crystal is all we’ve got. Sadly, while Crystal may be all we’ve got, it’s not all the audience needs.
None of “Crystal Fairy’s” scant amount of characters are particularly enjoyable to watch, especially Gaby Hoffmann’s take on Crystal. While the actress fully embodies the look of a “one love” brand hippie, particularly when she bears all multiple times and allows the audience to gaze upon her pale, hairy figure, she does not have the soul of an uninhibited spirit. Hoffmann’s character, unintentionally or not, repeatedly contradicts herself through her dialogue and actions all movie long. This disengaging attribute does not act as a character flaw, but rather ends up irritating the audience.
Most of Sebastian Silva’s film is contradictory, principally its genre categorization. Even though the movie is supposed to be a comedy, Jamie and company’s drug trip becomes very dark in its closing minutes, leaving the viewer wondering what the director was trying to go for with such a drastic genre shift. I’m pretty sure it’ll take the use of a lot of illicit substances for me to finally decipher the meaning behind Silva’s ending.
Until then, “Crystal Fairy” makes about as much sense to me as the clothing selection at Top Shop — which is perfect, because anyone that shops at that hipster clothing cesspool will probably enjoy this film.
By David Morris