"Crystal Fairy" isn't going to be the mind-expanding movie buzz that blows your mind, but in its laconic, trippy way it gets under the skin. It's interesting that so much of the attention around this Sundance-premiered road-trip/drug-trip comedy has focused on its co-star, Michael Cera, and not the lesser known but more formidable Gaby Hoffman, ex-child star and actress extraordinaire who plays the title character and more or less carries the film.
But one supposes that "Crystal Fairy" answers the much-asked Cera question: Can he play anything but the bemused adolescent that has become his stock in trade, in such movies as "Juno," "Superbad" and "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist"? The happy answer is yes, although what we've come to expect from Cera enhances what we get, in this film by Sebastian Silva (of 2009's "The Maid," which was great).
In a story much more about personal insight than degenerate drug use, Cera plays Jamie, an ugly American on a trip to Chile to find a legendary cactus that will provide him the high of his life. Grating, presumptuous and full of himself, Jamie alienates just about everyone he meets, although it's here that a contraindicated collision of persona and performance causes a favorable side-effect: We can't hate Cera, so Jamie gets a pass, and in the company of the wonderful Hoffman arrives at a beach, and a nearness to nirvana.
Silva is a genuine talent and the movie has an easy, natural tone (enhanced by the casting of three brothers as Jamie's ersatz Chilean tour guides) and he never pushes things. Between Hoffman's moving, funny performance and Cera's mind-and-range-expanding turn, "Crystal Fairy" is a little bit of a mind-bender.
PLOT Obnoxious tourista on a quest for a famous hallucinogen encounters a hippie chick with a world view.
Unrated (drugs, nudity, language, adult content)
CAST Michael Cera, Gabby Hoffman, Juan Andres Silva, Jose Miguel Silva, Agustin Silva
BOTTOM LINE A loosey-goosey construct with a yearning heart and revelatory performances from Cera and Hoffman.