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‘Love, Antosha’ (review)

Produced by Adam Gibbs, Drake Doremus
Directed by Garret Price
Narrated by Nicolas Cage

 

Compelling, touching, poignant documentary on Anton Yelchin, the gifted actor who died at the age of 27 in a freak accident.

I remember hearing the news and discussing it with people at work the next day. We all expressed how sad and awful it was, but really, I only knew him as Chekov in the new Star Trek films and for his excellent turn in the intense and frightening Green Room.

In that sense, Love, Antosha is an eye-opener.

Yelchin was much more than just a talented thespian who dabbled in music.

His story begins when his parents, a figure-skating team, emigrated to Los Angeles from Russia.

We witness young Antosha’s curiosity and energy in home videos and then later, through the short films the movie-mad youngster would make with his friends and parents.

He also caught the acting bug as a child and many interviewed here comment on how natural a talent he was at such a young age.

A surprise to me, at least, was that his parents were informed by Antosha’s doctor that the child had cystic fibrosis.

This was devastating news, but they feared the young boy with the huge imagination would take the news very badly, so they waited for years to inform him of his illness.

When he finally was told, he fought against the disease with long, daily breathing exercises, and let very few people know of his affliction.

He truly had a huge appetite for life, pursuing music, photography, literature and women.

The film also portrays a fascination in the dark and sleazy underbelly of LA in the young man. He would frequent sex clubs and seedy areas of LA; the film never explicitly says so, but it is implied he was obsessed with these worlds as an observer, but not necessarily a participant.

The list of peers and co-workers interviewed here is testament to the love Yelchin bred: Chris Pine, John Cho, JJ Abrams, Simon Pegg, Jennifer Lawrence, Kristin Stewart (whose first major crush was Yelchin), Martin Landau, Joe Dante, etc. etc.

They all sing his praises and many have touching, amusing or hilarious anecdotes (Lawrence relates a laugh-out-loud memory of Yelchin’s chance meeting with Cindy Crawford on a plane)

But the main takeaway from Love, Antosha is the profound love between Yelchin and his parents, especially the incredible bond between mother and son. It’s the main thread throughout the film and it’s alternately touching, funny, moving, heartbreaking and inspiring.

 

 

 

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