What is illustrious Arrested Development alum Michael Cera doing on a Chilean beach, tripping on hallucinogenic cactus juice with a band of South American brothers while a blithely nekkid Gaby Hoffmann cavorts nearby? Beats me, but I’m glad he’s there. Crystal Fairy — the title refers to the name preferred by Hoffmann’s New Age-y character — tastes a little of Y tu mamá tambien, with its sandy ramble of an outing. (That in itself is a good thing.) But the flashes of absurdist humor, druggy space-time perceptions, and low-keyed empathy are the bright work of New York-based Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Silva. (Seek out his 2009 Sundance award-winner The Maid – so good.) It’s no accident that Cera’s character, a cloddish, insensitive American guy out for an exotic (and low-budget) South American Adventure, keeps referring to The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley’s account of his own drug-induced revelations that inspired generations of college-age seekers to turn on and tune in. Crystal Fairy is shot through with sharp, fleeting insights about beauty, spontaneity, and the human hunger to connect. Plus, at the old-man age of 24, Cera has honed his expressive deadpan — shading from incredulity to aggression to bewilderment and back to comedic — to even more mature advantage, and the director recognizes the extra laughs of putting such a grating gringo in among gentler Spanish-speaking locals. Hoffmann, meanwhile, wanders around in the altogether with phenomenal hippie aplomb.
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