LOVE, ANTOSHA (2019)
Featuring JJ Abrams, Sofia Boutella, John Cho, Marlon Clark, Ian Cripps, Willem Dafoe, Joe Dante, Paul David, Ryan Dean, Drake Doremus, Ben Foster, Jodie Foster, Craig Gillespie, Dave Glowacki, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Jones, Avy Kaufman, Martin Landau, Frank Langella, Jennifer Lawrence, Mary Lester, Mark Palansky, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Jon Poll, Zachary Quinto, Parush Rao, Zoe Saldana, Luke Shaft, Sophie Simpson, Kristen Stewart, Anya Taylor-Joy, Gena Tuso, Jon Voight, Richard Wicklund and archival footage of Anton Yelchin.
Narrated by Nicolas Cage.
Directed by Garret Price.
Distributed by Lurker Productions. 92 minutes. Not Rated.
As I prepared myself to watch Love Antosha, the documentary film paying tribute to the late actor Anton Yelchin, I anticipated a sob-fest. Box of tissues within reach, I was ready to say goodbye to an actor who really made his mark for me as the young Pavel Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek franchise.
I considered myself a fan of his work but knew little about him beyond his Star Trek role and his role in 2017’s Thoroughbreds. It did seem maybe a little odd that of all the celebrities that we had lost in the few years, Yelchin would be the one to get a documentary of his life. However, I attributed that to his young age and sudden nature of his death. (Not a spoiler since it was a big news story at the time, but he was killed in a freak accident where he was crushed by his Jeep Cherokee against his home security gate. It was awful).
Tears rimmed my eyes at the five-minute mark as Love Antosha introed with home videos of Anton as a young boy. It then moved to his parents, Irina Korvina and Victor Yelchin, talking about their beloved son and what they gave up to give their “infinitely creative” son a better life in America. It was surprising to me that his parents were renowned Russian Ice Ballet dancers, one of those little tidbits that you pick up about someone posthumously that remind us of how little we know about a person. Still I felt like Love Antosha was going to be a sweet, sad, goodbye to an actor that his family and fans were not ready to lose.
How were they going to fill the 1 hour 32-minute run time?
Then, the tears stopped as surprise and near shock took over. Clearly, in spite of my self-proclaimed fandom, I knew nothing about Anton Yelchin and had never even checked out his IMDB page. He was a childhood actor who never stopped acting and was credited with 67 television and film projects at the time of his death at 27 years old. He started working with an acting coach at 8 years old and after a run of commercials, he landed a spot on a 2000 episode “Be Still My Heart” of the series ER and his career took off.
Love Antosha highlights a number of his bigger roles: Hearts in Atlantis with Sir Anthony Hopkins, Fierce People with Donald Sutherland, Diane Lane, and Kristen Stewart, House of D with David Duchovny and Robin Williams, Like Crazy with Jennifer Lawrence, to name a few. Then it punctuates some of these bigger roles with soundbites by some of Yelchin’s costars. Kristen Stewart admits that Anton broke her heart. Jennifer Lawrence details how Anton stepped up her acting game and made her rethink line delivery. And many others, all talking about Anton’s childlike curiosity and old soul.
So, the depth and breadth of his work was surprising, but still, as a documentary on a late actor, not out of the ordinary. However, Anton as an artist was far more than his acting, with creative outlets in music and photography. He taught himself to play the guitar and played with a band (The Hammerheads) when he was in LA. He was a secret late-night photographer, capturing artistic yet seedy LA stories in his pictures that surprised most of his friends and family. (Chris Pine has some fun sound bites about the photography in particular.)
Above all, the most shocking facet of Anton Yelchin’s life was his lifetime struggle with cystic fibrosis. Love Antosha becomes a coming out story of the actor’s battle with CF, a hereditary terminal illness diagnosed in childhood that causes its young patients’ lungs to fill with thick mucus that must be manually broken up. Life expectancy drops to an average 37.5 years for those battling this disease. It requires daily hour-plus long treatments and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle for any survival.
What this meant is getting up two hours earlier on shoot days that were already 19+ hours for a JJ Abrams set. Few, if any, of his coworkers knew. It was a secret that he only was beginning to feel the pull to admit to, understanding that it could raise awareness of the disease and help others also battling this tragic illness.
Love Antosha is a story of a life ended way too soon, but also of a life that has and will continue to inspire others in the telling of his story, hopes, and dreams. It is a story of love and passion, and hour and thirty-two minutes worthy of its audience’s time.
Copyright ©2019 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 16, 2019.