‘Love, Antosha’ Review: A Heartbreaking Look at an Actor’s Too-Short Life
The death of the actor Anton Yelchin, in a freak accident outside his home in 2016, was one that film fans took personally — whether or not they’d ever met him. Yelchin was only 27 but had put together a sturdy and eclectic filmography. Russian-born, he was an endearing young Chekov in the J.J. Abrams-produced “Star Trek” movies. And he did searching, intimate work in several independent films, including the punked-out genre movie “Green Room” and the disturbing, erotically obsessed “Porto,” to name two of his final appearances.
This affectionate, heartbreaking documentary about his life, directed by Garret Price, presents Yelchin as a soldier of cinema, and a lot more. His Russian-Jewish parents were renowned figure skaters who settled in the United States before he was a year old. Happenstance led to work as a child actor; a goofy sense of humor and a growing commitment to storytelling yielded wild short films, shot on a camcorder.
Once he committed to a film career, his parents decided to show him what art cinema was like. They screened Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.” The demonstration struck; before his death, he was preparing his directorial debut, “Travis,” from a screenplay he had written. The title was a nod to the principal character of the Scorsese film.
Yelchin had cystic fibrosis, a wasting disease he had told only his closest intimates about. The movie chronicles the incredible work ethic he developed even as he strove mightily to stave off the effects of the incurable disease. “Love, Antosha” also goes to pains not to make Yelchin a plaster saint. His taste for night life wasn’t merely enthusiastic; some might call it risky. His “Star Trek” co-star Chris Pine goes googly-eyed recalling some of his friend’s adventures.
Other interviewees, including Jennifer Lawrence and Yelchin’s adoring parents, can’t help but cry in front of the camera. There’s a good chance you’ll join them.
Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes.