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|Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and 2012
dir-scr Sebastian Silva
prd Juan de Dios Larrain, Pablo Larrain
with Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Juan Andres Silva, Agustin Silva, Jose Miguel Silva, Sebastian Silva, Esteban Carreno, Juan Carlos Lara II, Graciela Gonzalez Cruz, Daniel Riveros, Gary Boyd, Manuela Baldovino
release US 12.Jul.13,
Buzzing on the beach: Cera
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Both relaxed and unsettling, this gentle comedy-drama reveals some uncomfortable truths about the sometimes obnoxious ways Americans tend to behave abroad. Skilled Chilean filmmaker Silva finds plenty of wit along the way, but the movie is a darkly provocative character odyssey.
An American in Chile, Jamie (Cera) is attending parties and using drugs in an attempt to overcome his repressive nature. So when he meets free-spirited fellow-Gringo Crystal Fairy (Hoffmann), he invites her to join him and his flatmate Champa (Juan Andres Silva) on a cross-country road trip, although space is tight in the car along with Champa's brothers Pilo and Lel (Agustin and Jose Miguel Silva). Along the way, Jamie becomes obsessed with getting some hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus, which they plan to boil up and drink on the beach.
Jamie and Crystal are a vivid bundle of American arrogance and fear, and their demands bring tension for the easy-going brothers (played by the filmmaker's siblings). "Look how much you have!" Jamie whines, missing the irony when someone refuses to sell their cactus. And even their inebriation is comically obsessive, bravely played by both Cera and Hoffmann. Each performance is earthy and remarkably unaffected, as is Silva's filmmaking, which has has an unscripted, offhanded style.
This makes even the most offbeat scenes feel believably real. When Jamie and Champa run into two cross-dressing hookers (Carreno and Lara), it seems almost natural that they invite them home for a drink. After all, Jamie is trying to open himself to experiences. This indulgence is deeply annoying. And Crystal is no less insistent, but at least she has a conscience and some some social skills. She's also convinced the world will end in December 2012.
In other words, this is a blistering fable about how the US is perceived as a nation that believes it's right and sees the rest of the world as inferior and there for the taking. Indeed, in the end we can't help but wonder if their trippy hallucinations are self-induced, and the film's final third is free-form and more than a little demanding as things turn emotional. As Lel explains around the campfire, the scariest thing in the world is people who have bad intentions but don't realise it.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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