Anyone who has ever taken a road trip with a neurotic friend or acquaintance will almost assuredly relate to Crystal Fairy and The Magical Cactus and 2012. Directed by Sebastian Silva and starring, Michael Cera (Juno), Gaby Hoffman (Field of Dreams) and Silva’s model good-looking trio of brothers Juan Andrés, José Miguel and Agustin Silva (aka the Silva brothers), Crystal Fairy won this year’s Sundance Festival Directing award and in the process made its director one of Hollywood’s hottest up and coming directors.
At its core Crystal Fairy is both literally and figuratively a film about a journey. Jamie (Michael Cera) is a naively obnoxious American living in Chile who ropes his Chilean friend Champa (Juan Andrés Silva) along with his brothers Lel (Jose Miguel Silva) and Pilo (Agustin Silva) into driving down to the Atacama Desert for a mescaline-fueled psychedelic trip courtesy of drinking a San Pedro cactus, which they must first buy and prepare before the trip begins in earnest. One problem. On the night before they are scheduled to leave, Jamie snorts a whole bunch of cocaine, swigs a healthy amount of booze and invites a girl that he meets at a party to join them. That girl turns out to be a free-thinking, hippy-esque American who goes by the name Crystal Fairy and her addition to the trip will change the dynamic of everything that Jamie has planned.
Cera’s portrayal of the annoying “ugly American” Jamie is almost painfully dead on. So much so in fact that I found myself squirming in my seat as I watched him. I know this Jamie guy and chances are so do you and that’s what makes him so uncomfortable to watch. The Silva brothers are naturally effortless in the portrayal of the kind and patient siblings that are the perfect foil for Jamie’s self-centered, unenlightened ways. And Gaby Hoffman is fearlessly entertaining as the quirky Crystal Fairy whose story is so much deeper than it appears on the surface.
With the Chilean desert as its primary backdrop, Crystal Fairy is a surprisingly frank exploration of denial, self-recognition and the kind of real camaraderie that only a road trip can bring.
Crystal Fairy is currently playing in Los Angeles, New York and other select cities.