In Sebastián Silva’s new movie, Crystal Fairy, Michael Cera plays Jaime, a rich American twenty-something traveling through Chile with some native companions on a quest for drugs and good times. The movie begins at a party where Jamie is living it up, snorting cocaine, drinking and generally having a great time. It’s here, on the crest of a drug addled binge, that he meets the eccentric Crystal Fairy, played by Gabby Hoffman. Jaime gives her his phone number and tells her of his plan to procure a potent hallucinogen in the form of a rare cactus that he and his companions will then take with them to a beach, cook it down so as to achieve the rawest form of the drug, and drink it as they sit in the sunshine. Not thinking that she will actually follow through with contacting him, he is surprised when she calls his phone and meets him and his company at the next town they travel through in their quest for this cactus. Crystal Fairy ends up joining their caravan and is along for the whole ride, drugs, beaches and all.
For a movie that was reportedly mostly ad-libbed, it definitely has a meandering focus. Based loosely on an episode from Silva’s life, the movie trudges along with hand held cameras and flawed characters. The main antagonists of the movie, Jamie and the titular Crystal Fairy, are what keeps the movie interesting enough. The back and fourth between these characters is fun to watch; benevolent Crystal Fairy is a free spirit, happy with her flaws and weaknesses. This is diametrically opposed to Jamie’s bratty and impulsive “money saves all” nature. Gabby Hoffman and Michael Cera are engaging as the two main characters, even if the attention is mostly negative in that “do you believe this guy?” kind of way. It feels real and natural and is incredibly not glamorous.
The problem with this movie is the fact that it lacks a true focus. Driving to a beach with your friends to do drugs is not something that you can easily build a cohesive story around because it’s just so simply that: A road trip movie with a weird girl and a rich American. The three brothers that are their Chilean companions (played by director Silva’s actual siblings) are left to hold the whole thing together, and they do. They are the only characters in the movie that are genuinely likable and relatable. Their incredulity at the behaviors of Crystal Fairy and Jaime is also mine. They center the absurdity of the movie and keep it all in perspective.
Overall, this movie is simply what it extends itself to be, a road trip buddy movie. With compelling turns by both Cera and Hoffman, it remains watchable, but it’s not the kind of movie that stays with you. It’s enjoyable for the moment, but it ultimately fails to ask more from the viewer other then to accept that, hey, people do this type of stuff.
Crystal Fairy opens today at the Ritz theaters.