Crystal-FairyWhen perusing through a film festival programming guide, there is a short list of words that will instantly dissuade me from wanting to see a film.  Two of these are the words Michael Cera.  Now to say that I hate Michael Cera’s entire body of work would be a bit untruthful.  In fact, I can currently list off at least 4-5 of his films of his that I absolutely adored.  The problem is that I have grown increasingly tired of the whole ‘nerd chic’ wave that has dominated pop culture as of late, and whether he likes it or not, Cera is one of the movement’s prime figures.  Imagine my surprise and elation then when I went on to learn that my only viable option for my Sundance Opening Night film, was indeed Michael Cera’s newest hipster excursion, Crystal Fairy.

Crystal Fairy tells the story of a group of friends who are remarkably different, yet common in their urges to venture into the psychoactive world of a Mescalin trip.  Michael Cera plays Jamie, a mentally diluted 20-something whose travels to Chile only serve to satiate his misguided infatuation with the country’s plethora of illicit substances.  One night, his cocaine-fueled antics bring him into contact with a naive and free spirited hippie girl known only as Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann).  In his clouded state of mind, he unwittingly invites Crystal to accompany him and his friends on a camping trip to extract and consume Mescalin from the San Pedro Cactus (something he could have done anywhere in the Western US), and impulsively, she agrees.  The real trouble begins when the two reunite in their sober states where their personalities soon collide, creating a tense and combative atmosphere; and that’s when they decide to start tripping.

It would be so easy to just write off Crystal Fairy as just another movie about drugs for people who love to do drugs, and I initially thought I would do just that.  The problem came when I realized that I had somehow fallen completely in love with these characters.  This is not because they are really all that likable, especially when it comes to Jamie or Crystal.  Instead this infatuation I had with the characters stemmed more from the fact that they just seemed so entirely familiar.  I know borderline Sociopaths like Jamie, and I know easily molded crystal obsessed hippies like Crystal. Crystal Fairy‘s ability to instantly allow me to relate its characters with my own reality added a sort of truthful and humanistic feel to the film that I truly adored.

Director Sebastian Silva’s witty dialogue and ofttimes absurd style of film-making is more than capable at generating a plethora of gut busting laughs, but instead of just getting his jibes and moving on, he uses his humor as an elaborate curtain, effectively disguising the intense human drama that dwells behind it.  To say that the film preaches a message of acceptance would be overdoing it a bit, but it does however work to show its viewers that though there are people in this world that annoy us to know end, somewhere below the surface, we may share a level of commonality with them.  I make it a point to avoid my real life version of Jamie in my day to day life, but this doesn’t mean that I too haven’t bored people to death with my recounts of Aldous Huxley’s book, Doors of Perception.  

Whether Crystal Fairy will play well to those who aren’t familiar with drugs or drug culture remains to be seen.  I can say though that I absolutely loved this film and would highly recommend you give it a shot.  However, it is also my civic duty to alert you to the fact that Gaby Hoffmann has quite an ample amount of full frontal nudity in this film, and there is a large possibility that this film will forever ruin Field of Dreams and Uncle Buck for you.


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Ty Cooper lives in Asia and spends most his time drifting through the streets of Taiwan imagining he is Shotaro Kaneda in Akira. Once a year he takes on the unyielding snow storm that is Sundance and attempts to capture a glimpse at what the upcoming year in film has to offer. Ty first started writing for HeyUGuys after SXSW in 2010.