Having done some research into this weeks movie Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus and 2012, or just Crystal Fairy for hardness sake I discovered that film began to shoot when financing for a different film by the Chilean director Sebastian Silva fell through…and it explains a lot really. This resulted in can only imagine to be an outline of an idea by Silva about an obnoxious American student studying abroad in Chile, who will stop at nothing to try the psychedelic cactus plant San Pedro. Now to begin with, this idea seemed refreshing to me…a seemingly effortless character study, with a subtle and minimalist goal…I mean in age where soulless blockbusters would CGI your dead Grandmother back to life just fill seats, it’s synopsis did seem refreshing…But just like my Grandmother used to say “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”…For the purpose of this blog, that stance would be redundant here…but frequent readers of my blog will know, from the length of this one…I sure as hell tried!
God knows I do like a slow burner…I mean it’s key when it comes to a good television show…possible not as much when it comes to film. Here Silva really takes his time setting up his cast. First up is the obnoxious, self-centred Jamie (Michael Cera)…who I must admit does a really good job and making you think he is a prick. Then there is his Chilean roommate, Champa. We meet the pair at a house party where Jamie laments the availability of good Chilean cocaine to an absence of fine wine in Napa…pretentious much? While all the time Champa is reassuring everyone that Jamie isn’t really such an asshole. Jamie and Champa’s plan to try mescaline goes out the window when they meet Crystal Fairy (Gabby Hoffman), an eccentric…to say the least, hippy…who Jamie disingenuously invites along on the preplanned road trip without asking anyone else…
The next day, Champa, his two younger brothers and Jamie head off on their, to only receive a phone call from Crystal Fairy saying she would meet them there. Jamie who is beside himself, cannot fathom that she is actually going…even though she was invited..by him… So the dynamic of their drug bound lad-trip shifts to include this madder then a badger in a drain pipe character, who inserts herself into the group.
Silva’s tale unfolds into a bizarre and terribly unsatisfying version Terry Gilliam’s ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’… Cinematographer, Cristian Petit-Laurent, does capture the beauty of the surroundings and the subtly interactions between them…but mentioning that is like keeping the rotten tooth after its be taken out. The script does allow all the characters their own time in front of the camera to develop and grow…but just like in real life, it does take years and all that is learnt , isn’t always shown…especially in terms of Jamie. Jamie, who has at the most to grow within the movie within the template of ‘obnoxious, self-centred character to more empathic, loveable and likeable’…but yet it doesn’t happen. And it’s not because that is how Silva had intended it or because Cera didn’t deliver…because I Cera did fantastically well with what he was given. I think it is because the plot is wafer thin…and not in a minimalist kind of way, but more of I haven’t got a Plan B so i’ll give you this 20 min short idea I have and stick it together with 99% filler….killing all that I though would be refreshing about this film before I watched it.
Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus and 2012 is like one of those people who go on a gap year for life experiences…but is to scared of actually doing anything while they are there, so they make up stories based on these trends of what they hoped and desired everything would have turned out like by trying to take bits from here and there…but never having anything of their own.