Careful character study of a young life cut short proves to be engaging tribute.
It would be easy to dismiss “Love, Antosha” as a film that is so in love with its subject that it lacks the required objective detachment to truly be about something. However, through immersing the viewer in the young actor’s words, Anton Yelchin kept a journal, it’s utterly inspiring. This movie is a detailed and informative examination of a bright burning talent that departed too soon.
In his feature debut, director Garret Price gets what appears to be unfettered access to all things Anton. The actor, who appeared in 69 television and film projects before his death in 2016, at the age of 27, is exposed as a complex soul. One thing that has been revealed with the release of the film was his growing battle with cystic fibrosis. Diagnosed as a child, his parents kept this from him for years, until they determined it was appropriate. And it’s this often fatal illness that probably helped shaped him into a man devoted to his craft and to so many other things as well.
Through interviews with Anton’s parents, archived family video, and an endless number of film clips, we get a real sense of who the actor was both personally and professionally. He had a deep appreciation for film history, and his parents, who emigrated from Russia, encouraged this. But despite the laundry list of A-Listers that parade across the screen, one thing shines through above all else, the guy really loved his mother.
Irina Korina, Anton’s mother, tearfully discusses her son, at length. At one point, she dons one of his jeans jackets and what she says is very impactful. Her boy’s tragic and senseless death (he was crushed by a malfunctioning vehicle), has hit her and Anton’s father, Viktor, very hard. The film gives us a bit of their grief and conveys unabashedly their love affair with their son. It’s so sincere and lacking in pretense that it’s hard to keep ones eyes dry.
Film buffs will be hitting IMDB and Wikipedia after watching this one and reviewing the actor’s filmography. Anton’s passion for film translates well. His experimentation in his life (with drugs and sex, as shown here) would have, I think, transferred to his creative and successful evolution as an actor and as a director. We learn that at the time of his death, he was prepping a film project that he would helm.
Martin Landau appears in the film, and what the Oscar winner says is very insightful. It’s not that Landau says something profound, but having interviewed him myself, it’s the genuine way he says it. Landau, at least at the end of his life, was a really tender soul. He laments that Anton is gone. It’s a very heartfelt sentiment and one that everyone, from top to bottom in this production, shares. And after watching “Love, Antosha,” I feel it too.