One of the biggest surprise nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards this year was the nomination for Gaby Hoffmann in the Best Female Lead category. Considering her career had been going downhill for years and she received the nomination for a film most have never heard of (Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and 2012), there must have been something that got voters to vote her into a category with a lot of competition (many critics pointed out that Greta Gerwig of Frances Ha missed out in this category). Upon finally seeing Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and 2012 I still have no idea how Gaby Hoffmann got this nomination. She certainly is by no means bad, but she is at the center of a mess of a film with a storyline that probably can’t sustain a film under any circumstances.
Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and 2012 follows Jamie (Michael Cera) as he travels to Chile in order to meet up with a few friends for their adventure to find a mythical hallucinogenic cactus. Before they set out, they go to a party where Jamie meets Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann). While under the influence of drugs Jamie invites Crystal Fairy on their quest, which begins a crazy and awkward journey. The film is directed and written by Sebastian Silva (director of the acclaimed 2009 film, The Maid).
The main problem with this film is that it seems as if it was made by someone who was actually on drugs while making it. Sebestian Silva gives us interesting characters, but they quickly become unlikeable as they end up on a chaotic and meandering story that never provides any sort of deeper meaning at any point. Maybe it would have worked better if there was some skilled direction at the center of it, but Silva brings absolutely no sense of visual style to the film and it ultimately comes off as bland.
The two main performances in the film are decent enough to hold your attention despite the glaring weaknesses of the film. Michael Cera continues to take his career in an interesting route. This is a more dramatic performance from him (despite this ultimately being a comedy), and he fits quite naturally into the performance. Meanwhile, Gaby Hoffman gives a decent performance that some may be giving extra credit to for its “bravery”.
Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and 2012 is a complete mess of a film.