When you’re at a party and higher than the stars, chances are you’re either in the mood for group hugs or bashing your fist into the nearest face. Crystal Fairy, written and directed by Sebastian Silva (2009’s The Maid), centers on Jamie (Michael Cera), who feels the former one night and the latter the next day.
Jamie and his friends (played by the director’s three brothers) are partying in Chile and planning a road trip to find a hallucinogenic cactus. At the party, Jamie thinks that the dancing, “whoo!”ing Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffman, knowing exactly how to play hippie-crazy) is the most amazing person he’s ever seen. He invites her on the trip, but when his friends demure, Jamie gives her his number and they make plans for her to take a bus to meet them.
In the harsh sun of morning, Crystal calls Jamie to say she’s arrived at the destination, and he bitches about how she got his number and who invited her. Suddenly his pals are the ones willing to let her tag along, while Jamie stays grumpy as they wander neighborhoods looking for the cactus.
Cera still employs his go-to nervous tics, but here they’re borne of anxiousness and anger. Even if you’re a fan, his Jamie grates, but it’s right for the character. And Crystal —-the guys take to calling her “Crystal Hairy” when she emerges naked from a shower, all tufts of armpit hair and ’70s bush—-is simply obnoxious, or as Jamie puts it, “kind of exhausting.” She speaks of karma and Kali and “unleash[ing] that ancient voice of consciousness,” with no one knowing what she’s talking about. Hoffman is believable as a New Age nut through and through.
The film is an episodic slow burn, but just as you’re wondering if the story is simply about the clash of personalities, there’s a revelation, a reversal, a somewhat startling moment of truth. The subtext is judging people you don’t really know and how trauma can make a person adopt a new way of living. Very soon after the reveal, the credits roll, but this is one of the rare times an abrupt ending feels just right.