Critics' Pick

Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus (NR)

Comedy 100 July 12, 2013
By Alan Scherstuhl
With an offhand precision that suggests he might prove one of his generation’s major actors, Michael Cera lays bare two specific human weaknesses in writer-director Sebastián Silva's altered-states road drama Crystal Fairy. First is the pushy neediness of people who crave drugs too much-- the friends you worry will become junkies. Jamie has goaded his Chilean host, Champa (Juan Andrés Silva), and Champa's two brothers (José Miguel and Agustín Silva) into journeying out of town to track down a psychotropic cactus for boiling and ingesting on a magnificent beach. Problem is, at a party the coke and Jamie's need to be liked inspire him to invite along a hippie girl (the stellar Gaby Hoffmann), the first American he's met in Chile. Worse, she calls herself Crystal Fairy, chides the boys for scarfing junk food, and rattles on about chakras. That brings us to the second weakness: Jamie loves talking shit about people the second they're out of earshot, especially Crystal Fairy. With apologetic giggles, Jamie crabs to the brothers about how awful she is, how if they all agree she's ruining the trip he's up for taking care of it-- ditching her, even. The film is often beautiful and appealingly light. Every clear-eyed insight into why pushy people insist on pushing is matched by loose ensemble humor and lyric reveries. Cera's a pleasure even as Jamie's antsiness grows more abrasive. His hair is longer than usual, a curly halo, and that boy's face of his is now stretched over a man's skull. At times, especially when he's playing a beatific high, he looks for all the world like Harpo Marx.
Sebastián Silva, Sebastián Silva Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Agustín Silva, José Miguel Silva, Agustín Silva, José Miguel Silva Sebastián Silva, Sebastián Silva IFC Films


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