film review: crystal fairy

a trip that will blow your mind--in the best ways possible.

Crystal Fairy, the new film from Chilean director Sebastian Silva, came about on a lark; while waiting for financing to come through for Magic Magic, his film featuring Michael Cera and Juno Temple, he called up Cera and Gaby Hoffmann, who he'd worked with previously, invited them to come down to Chile, quickly wrote up a loose script (most of the film was improvised) based off of an idea he'd' had for years, and filmed it, gonzo style, in 12 days with just his three brothers rounding out the cast.

Which is just another way of saying that Crystal Fairy almost didn't happen--but praise San Pedro it did, because it's one of the best movies of the year. The story itself is basic--a selfish, abrasive ex-pat (played perfectly by Cera) is determined to track down some of the hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus and take it on the beach with his roommate and his roommate's two brothers (all played by Silva's real-life siblings). The night before they hit the road, a coked-out Jamie meets a free spirit traveler who goes by Crystal Fairy (Hoffmann) and invites her along. And she actually takes him up on the offer, jumping on a bus and meeting the boys en route.

What follows is a spot-on, funny--albeit wince-inducing--look at social interactions, group dynamics, repressed emotions, and the difficulties we 20-somethings have with just being ourselves. Think of it as What About Bob but with drugs--which is some high praise, if you've seen the 1991 flick about an earnest interloper crashing a family's vacation. Add in an engaging story, hazy-but-beautiful visuals, and a performance by Hoffmann that is breathtaking in its honesty, and you've got a film that, like a good trip, is a bit messy but ultimately thrilling.

Crystal Fairy hits theaters starting July 12.