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Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus– Movie Review

Submitted by on July 29, 2013 – 12:07 pmNo Comment

Low budget movies about aimless, unlikeable, rich, young people, usually doing drugs, seems to be a recipe for critical acclaim: The Basketball Diaries, Rules of Attraction, and 2012′s The Comedy are just a few. Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus is a new entry to this subgenre, and has certainly garnered plenty of praise (with an 81% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes). But I missed the humor that led other viewers to enjoy this light movie. Without laughs, it’s largely just 100 minutes of Michael Cera being inconsiderate and controlling. But an outstanding performance from Gaby Hoffmann and a cathartic ending offer enough to make this an interesting find.

Jaime (Cera) is a an American in Chile, smoking pot and doing cocaine. At a party, he meets a free-spirited woman who calls herself Crystal Fairy (Hoffmann) and drunkenly invites her to join him and his friends in the north. The next day, Jaime and his friends (played by director Sebastian Silva‘s real-life brothers) head out to find a regional cactus with legendary hallucinogenic properties, and to ingest it on the beach. Jaime is shocked to find that he invited Crystal. She joins them, and the search continues.

As an idea, Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus is clever: an inversion of the coming-of-age road trip, where the protagonist is no hero, and is in fact ruining the whimsical, revelatory journey for everyone else. I just didn’t think it was executed very well. The largely improvised scenes mistake petty arguing for conflict, and the brothers (three-fifths of the film’s main characters) remain underdeveloped.

Hoffmann is the exception, creating a layered and captivating performance with her openness and honesty. Crystal’s quirkiness is not forced; when her nudity freaks out Jaime, she puts on clothes without argument because she clearly never meant to upset anyone. And after making a big deal about “her boys’” prediliction for junk food, she takes a few sly sips of Coca-Cola.

The last act of the movie stands out. Not only does the cinematography change, as faces are beautifully illuminated by sparse light on the beach at night, but the real communication that has been absent throughout finally happens. And then, just as suddenly as it appears, it ends. In another great inversion of the genre, Silva provides no promise of transformation or lasting change, but ambiguous futures for his flawed leads.

Did you see Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus? What did you think?

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