LA Film Fest 2013
By Don Simpson | June 19, 2013
Director: Sebastián Silva
Writer: Sebastián Silva
Starring: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Agustín Silva, José Miguel Silva, Juan Andrés Silva
Jamie (Michael Cera) is a frizzy-haired American who has transplanted himself to Chile to selfishly experience its drug culture. Like a good little Capitalist, Jamie is interested in consuming everything around him in excess, regardless of the cost. His primary goal, however, is to ingest an ancient shamanistic hallucinogen called the San Pedro cactus.
The night before Jamie and his Chilean friends (Agustín Silva, José Miguel Silva, Juan Andrés Silva) commence their quest for the phallic San Pedro cactus, Jamie encounters a “dark tornado” named Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann) at a party. Clearly not thinking straight, thanks to massive amounts of drugs and alcohol, Jamie invites Crystal along on their San Pedro cactus expedition. Of course he does not remember this, so Jamie gets a bit freaked out when Crystal calls him the next morning. The sober [yet hungover] version of Jamie just wants to ditch Crystal, but his friends won’t allow it.
Just as Jamie has a knack for annoying everyone around him, Crystal grates on Jamie’s last nerve. In theory, Jamie should love Crystal because she is the human incarnation of his new favorite book, Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception. For Crystal, hallucinogens are a spiritual tool to escape the stressful confines of modern Capitalist society, to forget about the human constructs of time and money and reconnect with nature, but all Jamie seems to hear is “blah, blah, blah…” Instead, Jamie sees Crystal as a jock sees a hippie; he finds her free-spirtness to be ridiculous and embarrassing. Despite his overbearing anxiousness to consume the San Pedro cactus, Jamie seems too close-minded and stress-out to be able to enjoy such a trip.
Crystal Fairy shames some common themes to writer-director Sebastián Silva’s other Michael Cera vehicle, Magic Magic. Both films comment on annoying American tourists and their reluctance to learn foreign languages, as well as their over-indulgence in narcotics. Jamie and Crystal torment each other similarly to Brink (Cera) and Alicia (Juno Temple) in Magic Magic; in both cases Cera’s character naively inflicts psychological warfare upon his presumed female enemies, chauvinistically attempting to manipulate them with their emotions. Cera’s characters in both films are specifically designed to grate on the audience’s nerves to excruciating proportions. In Crystal Fairy, this technique effectively convinces the audience to side with Crystal, leading us to believe that Crystal is the pure and innocent one, the one who prefers bartering over exchanging money, the one who approaches hallucinogens selflessly rather than selfishly, the one who sees faces in the rocks before the drugs even begin to kick in.