Love, Antosha is a celebration of Anton Yelchin’s life, and though he passed away over three years ago, his loss is still deeply felt among his fans, friends and family. With that pain in hand, it’s easy to excuse oneself from watching this documentary, but that would be a miscalculation. Ultimately life affirming and inspiring, this project delivers an evocative and insightful look at one of cinema’s most talented artists.
Anton Yelchin was born the son of Irina and Viktor Yelchin, former Russian figure skaters who were granted refugee status in America in 1989 (Anton was six months old when his parents moved to the U.S.). Growing up in California’s sprawling San Fernando Valley, Yelchin was not just a precocious child who simply wanted to act. Of course his boundless imagination led him to storytelling, but it was director Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver which put the youth on an entirely different path.
Early roles opposite Albert Finney (Delivering Milo) and Anthony Hopkins (Hearts in Atlantis) set him on a course for success, and his work in House of D (directed by David Duchovny), Alpha Dog, and Charlie Bartlett (playing the titular role) would further bolster his acting resume.
View this post on Instagram
But there’s a meaning beyond just saying one’s lines, and as Yelchin became a passionate cinephile he attempted to infuse as much art and analysis into whatever movie role he tackled. That aesthetic will continue to endear him for generations to come, and it’s safe to assume his diverse output will continue to be appreciated (Rudderless, 5 to 7, the aforementioned Charlie Bartlett and Like Crazy are among his most memorable performances).
Director/editor Garret Price interviews a cast of filmmakers, actors, and friends to flesh out Anton’s acting and personal journey, and while each of these moments have definite value, it’s the interviews with Anton’s parents that resonate the most. The documentary’s moniker comes from the letters and emails Yelchin would write to his mother (he signed “Love, Antosha” after each message), and it’s evident that the loving bond he shared with his parents served as a fuel for his restless and creative spirit.
Love, Antosha’s biggest revelation is that Yelchin had cystic fibrosis, and since this disease has a life expectancy of a little over 37 years, it’s easy to see why he worked and lived as much as possible (along with his acting, he was also a musician, avid photographer, and budding filmmaker). That being said, having cystic fibrosis doesn’t lend oneself to burn the candle bright at both ends, as going through breathing exercises and simply attempting to maintain one’s health feels like a full time job.
Instead of retreating from life, Yelchin continued to confront and embrace it at every corner, even if all that searching would, at times, take a toll on his body.
If you are a Yelchin fan, this documentary should be right up your alley. Love, Antosha covers much of his body of work (Drake Doremus, the documentary’s producer, directed Yelchin in Like Crazy).
Plus there’s enough cinematic references (it’s pretty awesome that Yelchin watched The Big Heat with Star Trek co-star John Cho) to also satiate movie buffs. Jennifer Lawrence (The Beaver), Kristen Stewart (Fierce People), Chris Pine (Star Trek films), Anya Taylor-Joy (Thoroughbreds), and Ben Foster (Alpha Dog) are just several actors who also offer their remembrances of the late actor, and the documentary is filled with folks offering up a ton of praise and love along the way.
Love, Antosha could have gone the understandably predictable route of honoring Yelchin and simply existing as a golden portrait of the artist, but thankfully this film also delves into Yelchin’s lusts, doubts, and ultimate desires. In sum, it’s a fully fleshed portrait of a person who took life by the proverbial horns, sailed beyond sunset, and attempted to conquer his own inner demons. It’s amazing to think how much he accomplished at 27, and though his loss is immeasurable, it’s a comfort that his unquenchable passion and work will never fade away.
Love, Antosha opens in Los Angeles on August 2 and hits New York on August 9.