Wednesday, November 27, 2019

"Love, Antosha": one-paragraph review

Young actor Anton Yelchin died at the age of 27 back in 2016. The cause of death was a freak accident: he was found pinned against his home's brick-pillar gate by his own Jeep Grand Cherokee, which apparently popped its brake and rolled forward, trapping Yelchin and suffocating him. This year, a touching documentary titled "Love, Antosha" came out, paying tribute to Yelchin's short but full life. Yelchin was a prolific diarist; Nicolas Cage reads many of the young man's entries in voiceover. We learn about Yelchin's father and mother, Viktor and Irina—Russian figure skaters who escaped the Soviet Union in 1989, when Anton was still a baby. As much as little Anton loved to express himself, he was extremely devoted to his parents, especially to his mom. Anton wrote many cards and letters to his mother; he was often worried that he would never be able to capture, in words, the love and appreciation he felt for her. And with every card, he would sign his Russian nickname: "Love, Antosha." As I suspected from seeing Yelchin's acting, he was the type of person who lit up a room and made friends easily. He also had a nutty, naughty side that intensified as he grew older: he would lurk in the seedier parts of whatever city he was in, taking artsy photos of wacky, marginal people. A talented guitarist, Anton would jam with his group, the Hammerheads. On the set of JJ Abrams's Star Trek, where Yelchin played Pavel Chekov, he would jam with Chris Pine (who played Captain Kirk), a fellow guitarist. It was Pine who gave voice, in the documentary, to the painful thought running through my head: Anton Yelchin had been fighting cystic fibrosis all his life, so what a horrible twist of fate it was that he was killed by a vehicle that crushed the life out of his already-struggling lungs. "Love, Antosha" is a hard watch; I was nearly in tears pretty much throughout the whole thing. I have nothing but sympathy for Viktor and Irina, who, we are told, visit Anton's grave every single day. I recall feeling unwontedly sad when the news of Yelchin's death was announced; at the time, I knew next to nothing about him, except that he had a bright personality and an infectious energy. He was on his way to greatness; he loved acting and all forms of performance—a point this beautiful documentary drives home. He was also apparently loved by all the women, which was also part of his naughty charm. The world is a darker place, I think, without Anton Yelchin, but "Love, Antosha" is a well-made and fitting tribute to his brief time on this earth.

No comments: