The first time I saw Anton Yelchin on screen was in 2007’s Alpha Dog. In an ensemble of with a number of young, up-and-coming talent like Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, and Amanda Seyfried, Yelchin was one of the true standouts of the film, giving an honest performance that would immediately put him on my radar. Watching Yelchin grow as an actor was a true treat. He was an actor who did any kind of movie, from drama to comedy, from horror to sci-fi, and in each role Yelchin showed an incredible range and showed how gifted of an actor he really was.
Just over three years ago, we lost Yelchin in a freak accident and it was a loss that would shake Hollywood to its core. Love, Antosha is a love letter to Yelchin and his life. It’s a documentary that doesn’t mourn his death, but celebrates what he did as an actor and what he did as a person, touching everyone he worked with by his immense talent, his way of thinking, and his personality.
Director Garrett Price shows us Yelchin’s life from a child until just before his death. Utilizing home videos, interviews with his parents, his friends, and his co-stars, all of whom eventually became his friends, we get a true sense of who Yelchin was as a person and as an actor. He was not afraid of any role he took and broke each character and script down to the single word. But as a person, Yelchin was a sweet, loving, caring friend who loved to explore and think of the world beyond what he saw. Most film documentaries would focus just on the career of the actor, but Price made sure that we knew that Yelchin was more than what we saw on screen.
Watching actors like Chris Pine, Jennifer Lawrence, Kristen Stewart, and Martin Landau, among others, talk about working with Yelchin and how they ended up growing to become friends and the lasting impression he left on them really pulled at the heartstrings, as did the journal entries Yelchin wrote, which are narrated by none other than Nicolas Cage. They really took us inside his mind, a place full of wonder, thought, and darkness. It also showed how close Yelchin was with his mother and how much their relationship meant to him and her. Hearing his mother talk about him is crushing, yet beautiful because of how strong the relationship was.
The most shocking part of the documentary was knowing the Yelchin suffered from cystic fibrosis, something I don’t think much of the public, including myself, knew about. Yelchin was diagnosed with this disease early in his life, but he didn’t let it stop him from doing what he wanted to do and follow his dreams of being an actor and filmmaker. In a film that looks at an actor that is no long with us, this was an inspiring note that really tied the whole movie together.
Though the story ends sadly, Love, Antosha isn’t a movie that wants you to be sad. This movie is a celebration of Anton Yelchin. This was an immense talent who was taken away from us far too soon. He’s one of those actors who could have done anything and whatever he did, I would have been there to see it. Love, Antosha is an intimate, inspiring, moving, and loving film about a great artist and one of the best documentaries of 2019.
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