Sundance 2013 Review: Crystal Fairy

‘Annoying is relative when you’re watching a hipster complain about not getting high enough.’

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Crystal Fairy is one of those drug movies where characters spend most of the movie either trying to get high or acting high. It’s also one of those indie movies that revels in the humor of awkward discomfort. Stoner arthouse, if you will.

Jamie (Michael Cera) is in Argentina with his three friends (The Silva Brothers). At a coke party, he meets Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffman) and tells her about the trip to the beach they’re going to take. When he’s sober, he regrets giving her his number because she tags along with all her hippie karma cramping their style.

There is an audience for watching drug trips. I’m not that audience but I can be objective. After the cocaine, Jamie really wants to try mescaline, so the boys have a plan to buy a San Pedro cactus from a local to extract the mescaline. There are endless delays to the actual taking of the drugs, not the least of which is nobody wants to sell their cacti, but mainly Crystal Fairy keeps insisting on performing energy rituals and walking around naked. You see full bush, which is some sort of brave lack of vanity, or comment on modern grooming, or just an easy joke for a low budget movie to pull. You decide, I don’t want to cloud anyone’s interpretation or anything.

Crystal is an annoying character, although annoying is relative when you’re watching a hipster complain about not getting high enough. She’s not quite All About Steve repulsive, but she is not endearing. I hope that was intentional because I would applaud that. Make her really hard to like, and maybe don’t even redeem her, because that’s better comedy.

The comedy is iffy though. There were definitely some scenes that made me laugh in the context of “this is really happening in a movie.” The extended nude scene is really outrageous, because she really confronts the boys with her body, and they kind of deserve to be uncomfortable at that point. The general tenor is just Crystal annoying Jamie, which is a bit imperceptive of her but like most of these odd couple road trip movies, Jamie only seems to provoke her further. Other jokes are sort of lazy, like a “Would You Rather” game that cashes in on how many disgusting hypotheticals Jamie can come up with. Walking around Argentina they see some funny things in the background, like dogs humping in a dog park. It’s good for a few laughs on VOD, if it ends up there and you’re curious what kinds of movies get into Sundance.

Of course it goes dark in the end so be prepared. It’s that kind of movie. Laugh, awkward, freak out, gut punch. It’s fine. Crystal Fairy is inoffensive enough; that is, inoffensive if drug use and full frontal nudity are the norm in your cinematic consumption. I didn’t mind it, but that’s not the sort of buzz you’re looking for out of Sundance. 

Read Fred Topel's Sundance interview with Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffman about Crystal Fairy here!

Photo Credit: Sofa Subercaseaux

Make sure to check out all of Crave Online's coverage of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival here!

And check out these other reviews from Sundance 2013:

Who is Dayani Cristal?; starring Gael Garcia Bernal
Two Mothers; starring Robin Wright and Naomi Watts
Austenland; starring Keri Russell
Emmanuel and the Truth About Fishes; starring Kaya Scodelario
Don Jon's Addiction; starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson
Virtually Heroes; produced by Roger Corman
Breathe In; starring Felicity Jones and Guy Pierce
Inequality for All; featuring Robert Reich
Blue Caprice; starring Isaiah Washington and Tim Blake Nelson
Fill the Void; starring Renana Raz
Running From Crazy; featuring Mariel Hemingway
Wrong Cops; starring Steve Little
Hell Baby; starring Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb
Stoker; starring Nicole Kidman
Escape from Tomorrow; shot without permits at Disney World
Before Midnight; starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy
Afternoon Delight; starring Kathryn Hahn and Juno Temple
Ass Backwards; starring Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael
I Used to Be Darker; starring Deragh Campbell
Magic Magic; starring Juno Temple
Prince Avalanche; starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch
Sweetwater; starring January Jones, Jason Isaacs and Ed Harris
We Are What We Are, starring Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner and Michael Parks
S-VHS; sequel to found footage horror film V/H/S
Lovelace; starring Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard and Sharon Stone
The East; starring Brit Marling and Alexander Saarsgaard
After Tiller, about abortion doctor George Tiller
Citizen Koch, about The Koch Brothers and campaign finance contributions
Gangs of Wasseypur, a 5 1/2 hour Indian crime epic
In Fear, a horror movie set entirely within a car
The Rambler, starring Dermot Mulroney
What They Don't Talk About When They Talk About Love, about a school for the blind and deaf
Upstream Color; starring Shane Carruth and Amy Seimetz

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.