INDIEWATCH: Michael Cera Steps Outta The Mold In ‘Crystal Fairy’

Two things drew me to “Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus”: the title and Michael Cera.

As with many indie movies, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was certain of two things: Cera (of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and “Superbad”) would have me laughing and admiring him, as usual.

But that’s where I was wrong.

The film opens in Chile as Jamie (Cera) is on the hunt for a hallucinogenic cactus. At a party, he meets Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann), a philosophical free spirit, and they quickly click in a drugged-out exchange. Jamie invites Crystal to join him and his friends on a road trip to the ocean, where they intend to “do cactus.”

As their journey begins, Jamie is increasingly hostile to Crystal through adolescent passive-aggression and an attempted mutiny. To his friends, he offers to leave her at a gas station, and the root of his animosity is unclear. I’ve never disliked Michael Cera so much in any movie, which means he played the part wonderfully.

Michael Cera is a lover of cacti in “Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus.”

As the perfect counterpart to Jamie’s negativity, Hoffmann is magnetic in her portrayal of Crystal. She’s scraggly, earthy and seemingly unaware of societal convention. On the first night of their trip, she walks through their shared hostel room naked, offering rocks to help the group “open their chakras.” Her personal freedom seems to increasingly threaten Jamie, as he further lashes out. (I think this is the scene that gave “Crystal Fairy” its NR rating.)

Their road trip takes them across far-reaching landscapes in Chile, and the cinematography plays up the atmosphere as another character in this character study. I was really impressed with writer/director Sebastian Silva’s use of scenery to illustrate Jamie and Crystal’s individual high-on-cactus experiences.

The storytelling is a bit amiss, notably for an awkward character twist in the last act — and it ends a bit abruptly. Though, as a whole, “Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus” is worth streaming — if for anything, to see Michael Cera exercise his acting ability.

Grade: C+

“Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus” (2013)

Starring: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann.

Writer/Director: Sebastian Silva.

Time: 1:38

Rating: NR

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.