by George Sax
Sebastian Silva’s Crystal Fairy is set in the present, but with very minor adjustments it could be reaching back to 40 or so years ago, to hippiedom’s heyday. The title character (Gaby Hoffmann) might even be a flower child from San Francisco’s late-1960s Summer of Love.
Crystal—a.k.a. Isabelle—drones on and spouts off about emotional release, mystical transcendence, magic stones, and the apocalyptic Mayan calendar. In other words, she’s something of a self-parodic bore. It’s certain she irritates Jamie (Michael Cera), the central character in this strange, temporally and aesthetically unmoored movie. But Jamie is a bit of a self-absorbed pill himself, talking his head off, one moment tensely expectant, the next querulous.
It’s apparently Jamie, a young American drug tourist in Chile, who has organized a road trip to San Pedro to get and do some hallucinatory cactus on the beach. It’s at least halfway into Crystal Fairy before one of the three young Chilean men accompanying him admits Jamie is becoming something of an annoyance. In Silva and Cera’s conception, Jamie may remind one of a youthful but unamusing Woody Allen, verbose, self-concerned, and a little whiney. You may tire of him before the young Chilean does. The three young Latin men with Jamie and Crystal are a contrast from them, soft-spoken, patient, and generous of spirit.
Whether Silva, who also wrote the movie, intended to make a point about over-privileged, shallowly narcissistic Americans versus the wiser, more low-key Latins remains unclear. Now and then, there seems to be a hint of satirical intent, but Silva didn’t really go anywhere in this vein, and much of Crystal Fairy seems earnest. And a lot of it has a loose improvisatory feel. One thing Silva did achieve is to convey the subjective texture and dynamics of a moderately and temporarily bad drug trip.
But whatever emotional or intellectual insight he may have been aiming for remains obscure, all the way through his quizzically abrupt ending.
Watch the trailer for Crystal Fairy
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