Anton Yelchin was only blossoming as a young actor when he tragically died of a freak accident back in June of 2016. As a performer, it’s so easy talking about his talents, because he was unequivocally brilliant and intensely into his art. It has to be said, but his career was mostly filled with supporting turns, and some lead roles, but he always found a way to steal the show. The last time we saw Yelchin on-screen, he stole scenes from the highly talented Anya Taylor-Jones and Olivia Cooke in “Thoroughbreds,” a pitch-black crime drama in which his drug-dealing smack-talker turned out to be the moral compass of the film. That was the beauty of Anton, he always loved to choose bizarre characters and fully flesh them out to make them feel humane.
Watching Garret Price’s “Love, Anotsha,” the upcoming Sundance-premiered doc about Yelchin’s life, you start to realize how Yelchin was a universally loved individual because he didn’t have a bad bone in his body.
In “Love, Antosha,” more than 60 people are interviewed, friends, family members and collaborators (including a very emotional Jennifer Lawrence). Their reminiscences of their dearly departed friend comprises most of the more touching moments of the doc. But, more impressively, Price tells us Yelchin’s story through the vast amount of footage he found from the late actor’s life. It turns out that Yelchin frequently had a camera on him wherever he went, from childhood on, to the point where Price actually uses Yelchin’s recorded tapes to tell the story of his life.
Even if the viewer may not be aware of Yelchin’s career, they are still left floored by the doc because Yelchin was such a hard person to dislike. In fact, he went out of his way to always make the people around him feel comfortable. Despite, as revealed in the doc, the shocking confession from his parents that Yelchin had been suffering, since his early teens, from cystic fibrosis, an illness that significantly shortens a person’s life.
Of all his performances, “Alpha Dog” will stand the test of time, he breaks your heart in that movie, which has been gaining a considerable cult following since its 2006 release. That’s the thing about Yelchin, he never truly hit his stride but, much like River Phoenix and James Dead, has left us a body of work which is so impressive that it ultimately leaves us us to ponder with the question of “what if?” [B+]