Alicia is about to set out on her first trip outside of the US alongside her cousin Sarah and several of Sarah's friends. They embark on a long vacation to Chile where they set themselves up in an isolated house off the coast. However, when Sarah is forced to set off back home just a short time into the holiday, a nervous Alicia finds herself feeling completely alone with unfamiliar people. As one member of the party, Brink, begins to develop an obsessive interest in her, she starts to feel uneasy and increasingly unable to sleep. She discovers that Brink is not only fixated on her, but he also seems to completely lack human compassion and frequently shows a cruel side that Alicia is usually on the end of. Feeling ignored and ostracised by the rest of the disbelieving group, she starts to feel her mental stability going downhill and is desperate to go home before something terrible happens to her.
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Films don't get much more offbeat than this trippy comedy-drama about Americans in Chile. Thankfully there are some provocative themes gurgling under the surface - not just in the constant drug-taking but also in the way the film depicts the self-involved behaviour of Americans abroad. And the characters are complex and witty enough to keep us engaged.
At a raucous party in Santiago, Jamie (Cera) is trying to open his horizons by indulging in as much alcohol and drugs as he can find. When he meets the free-spirited fellow-American Crystal Fairy (Hoffmann), he invites her along on a road trip with brothers Champa, Pilo and Lel (played by the filmmaker's siblings Juan Andres, Augustin and Jose Miguel). As they drive through the country to a deserted stretch of coastline, Jamie becomes increasingly intent on finding some San Pedro cactus, because he's heard that boiling it up and drinking it causes hallucinations.
Even though Jamie and Crystal are a mass of American obsessions and phobias, their enthusiastic naivete makes them both irritating and likeable. And like the brothers, we grow tired of their arrogant assumptions and random demands. When Jamie tries to get people to sell him some cactus, he whines "Look how much you have!" when they say no, completely missing the irony of his privileged background. And of course his believe that everything has a price. Both Cera and Hoffmann find fascinating edges to these characters, keeping them grounded while hinting that even their drug tripping is due to self-indulgence rather than inebriation.
Continue reading: Crystal Fairy Review
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