Love, Antosha is a deep and relatable tribute to Anton Yelchin
There's no preface needed here - Love, Antosha is one of my favorite films of the year. It's an open-hearted, surprisingly revealing document of a beloved artist that was taken too soon. Featuring interviews with his parents and many of his former co-stars, as well as access to an incredible amount of personal documents like journals and videos, this documentary about the late actor Anton Yelchin is as life-affirming as it is heartbreaking. Intentionally or not, it also serves as a window into the future of obituaries and commemorations, as we're able to visit every conceivable period of Yelchin's young life through home videos, personally shot cell phone footage, and other digital ephemera likely assumed to remain personal.
Among its many surprises is the revelation that Yelchin struggled with cystic fibrosis for most of his life. His large number of acting credits over such a short career are attributed to his personal desire to do as much good work as possible in the potentially short time he would have here due to his condition. In his final years, he would begin to come to better terms with his condition and it seems he had a growing desire to share this with the world and prove that a chronic illness doesn't have to hold people back from living their dreams. This documentary ultimately serves this purpose, allowing him to add this to his legacy, even in his departure from our here and now.
One of the most touching things about this movie is how various people reflect on Yelchin's impact on their life. Legends like Martin Landau remark on his thoughtful approach to life and work, and his Star Trek cohorts lovingly reveal some of the secrets that he kept. Through these interviews and a series of journal entries (read in voice-over by another of Yelchin's co-stars, Nicolas Cage) and videos, we are given a glimpse into the existential struggles that Yelchin was facing as he approached the next phase of his career and adulthood. These revelations make him relatable and give this documentary a depth that I did not expect it to have, making it worthwhile beyond the confines of celebrating a life. Especially as we watch his parents also discover parts of their son that they weren't aware of, and lovingly embrace them and incorporate them into their image of him as a man. It's a wonderful reminder that we are the sum of our parts and to not judge ourselves too harshly for what we consider our worst moments.
Beyond the lovely remembrance of a remarkable life cut too short, this movie kept making me consider our future. I couldn't stop thinking about what details about me might be lingering on the internet for loved ones to find at any moment. Or things my friends might share with my family should I pass unexpectedly, even in the form of revealing text messages or e-mails sent in moments of panic. But these aren't actually stress inducing thoughts in the context of this movie. There's something comforting about the way this movie provides us a lens into a person's life and all of its many dimensions and how those around them remember them fondly, taking all of the good with the bad and loving them as they were. It reveals that we are always loved, even in our most desperate moments, and that we don't need to keep secrets or hide from the world. Who we are is what we're valued for, even if we can't see it ourselves. It's such a beautiful message to walk away from a movie with, and adds yet another layer and purpose to Yelchin's legacy.
Love, Antosha opens today at The Ritz at the Bourse.