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Review: Rosario Dawson shines as 'Krystal'

Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at 4:00 PM Central

by John Couture

Ever since Clerks II, I have been in love with Rosario Dawson. OK, that's not true. Her allure dates back much further, probably all the way back to the first time I saw her on the big screen in Kids. She just has one of those illuminating personas that lifts up the world around her. Or so I would imagine. I have never met her in real life and the expected restraining order if, by chance, she were to ever read this review will undoubtedly kill that dream in its tracks.

And yet, I still can't deny her powerful attraction.

That, in a nutshell, is probably the best way you could describe the bizarre film Krystal. As the titular character, Dawson is an ex-stripper (because all Krystals with a K are in the adult entertainment business) thirty-something woman with an uncanny knack of making everyone around her fall in love with her. I mean, I get it. She's Rosario #$%^& Dawson after all, so I get her allure. Unfortunately, very little else in the film works and the overall experience is a bit uneven at best.

The film follows an 18-year-old boy (man?) who has a weak heart. There's a whole condition involved, but the bottom line is that he has a weak heart and excitement of any kind puts his life in danger. Upon meeting Rosario Dawson's Krystal on the beach, he has a near-death experience and immediately falls in love - as one does.

First and foremost, we have to discuss the elephant in the room. The film is directed by William H. Macy who is quickly developing a reputation for directing forgettable comedies. He also helmed last year's The Layover - see, forgettable, right? Macy also stars as the patriarch of a family that would give any from Steel Magnolias a run for their money.

The thing is that Macy is such a good actor, I would almost be willing to forgive his trespasses in the directing chair if only he continues to bring his quirky characters to life. His family is filled out by his real-life wife Felicity Huffman and Grant Gustin and Nick Robinson as his sons. Nick's Taylor (or TayTay as his brother teases him) is the love-sick kid with the weak heart and I suppose this is really his story as much as anyone else's.

The problem is that the film is like throwing spaghetti on a wall and seeing what sticks. Then, promptly, taking that spaghetti and throwing it in the garbage. For as much discussion that Taylor's condition creates, it is quickly dwarfed by Krystal's AA troubles and abusive ex. I didn't even mention Taylor's mentor played by Kathy Bates who happens to have terminal cancer.

Whew! Is your head spinning yet? I know that mine was and even know I'm almost at a loss of words as to how to review this film. I mean, on the one hand, it's a mess tonally and the story is all over the map. And yet, there are some really good performances here.

The actors that you expect to turn in great performances do so with aplomb, but it's the ones from the younger stars such as Grant Gustin and Nick Robinson that truly jump off the screen. Gustin is best known for his work on The Flash but he really taps into his subtle humor in a way that is quite memorable. Nick is a young actor that is in the middle of a hot streak with films such as Love, Simon, Everything, Everything and The Kings of Summer.

There is nothing in his performance here that will suddenly deter his fast-rising career, but I have to say that his accent is truly horrific. The film is set in Savannah, Georgia which means plenty of bad southern accents. Maybe, it's just the fact that I now live in the South and a bad southern accent is as grating as grits in a cast iron skillet, but I really found them to be annoying. I'm almost willing to bet that there was some sort of cast and crew pool to see who could come up with the worst southern accent. If that is truly the case, then Nick Robinson won hands down.

Without a doubt, the best thing about Krystal is Rosario Dawson. While it's difficult to make much sense about the rest of the film, her disruptive presence is something that is unquestioned. In fact, the whole point of the film may simply be that she is the type of woman that can come in and change everything around her. And yet, she is struggling through her own life. In other words, we all need hope to survive at one time or another.

Krystal is now availble on DVD.