Crystal Fairy


Crystal Fairy And The Magical Cactus And 2012 – yes this is the actual title! – follows 3 Chilean brothers (director Sebastián Silva’s real life siblings) and one American dude (Jamie – Michael Cera) as they embark on a psychedelic journey to find a hallucinogenic cactus. On the way, they pick up a hippieish American girl (Crystal – Gaby Hoffman) who will spice things up.

While the premise looked good on paper, I didn’t know what to expect from Mr. Silva’s new film as I hadn’t embraced his most famous work to date, The Maid, as much as everybody else. His new effort takes however a welcome opposite direction, substituting dryness and graveness with some unabashed fun.

The first thing you should know is that Crystal Fairy isn’t a pro – or anti – drug movie. The cactus is just a pretext to witness their foolish journey and, to be fair, whenever they are intoxicated, they look more like fools than cool guys.

Mr. Silva based his script on personal experience, both characters and settings sounding true despite being quite extravagant. The story about a group of guys hitting the desert for some weekend of debauchery  is one that lots of people can relate to – at least if, like me, you live in California. Also, on a similar note, I actually know a girl like Crystal – and yes by this, I mean a carefree hairy hippie wannabe dominatrix!

You will also probably be amused by the portrait Mr. Silva brushes of Americans visiting his country. While we already went over Crystal’s case, Jamie is one of these nerds hoping to be cool – and actually find acceptance – thanks to drugs. His egocentric character is both annoying and hilarious, depicted as some kind of Woody Allen on speed. While those two characters might look like caricatures, what the director is actually showing is that a certain type of American tourists comes visit his country, Chile. You might easily understand why the filmmaker – and Chileans in general – might be irritated by this and for having traveled quite a bit, I can attest that obnoxious stereotypes of backpackers and foreign party-goers can be found everywhere, from Peru to India and Jamaica.

While the film doesn’t lack amusing moments, performances are the essence of Cristal Fairy, more particularly when it comes to the two leading characters. Mr. Cera is able to both get under your skin and make you laugh, being particularly at ease in another geeky incarnation – just watch him do yoga or run away with the cactus. As for Gaby Hoffman, she is fearless, which isn’t surprising from Viva Hoffman’s offspring – in case you were wondering her mom was Andy Warhol’s leading actress for a while.  She embodies a careless, slightly crazy but ultimately sweet character and spends quite some time wondering in the nude – and those scenes are less than flattering as the boys nicknamed her hairy fairy.

When the end comes, the characters realize that their road trip wasn’t just about getting high but also about self-discovery. Both the culminating drug sequence and this easy conclusion are far from being original but what really matters here isn’t the destination but the journey – and Mr. Silva certainly knows how to plan a fun trip.

Director: Sebastián Silva – Actors: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann – Running Time: 1:40 – Year: 2013 – Country: Chile

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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.