Review: A Strong Cast and Subtle Charm Work for Krystal

Sometimes, a movie doesn’t have to be great to be watchable; sometimes, just having a highly likable cast of actors that I genuinely adore is enough to get me through a film that may lack a little something more.

Let me introduce you to Krystal, the latest work directed by actor William H. Macy (from a screenplay by Will Aldis), which tells the very simple story of a young man named Taylor (Nick Robinson from Love, Simon and Jurassic World), who was born with a heart condition that causes it to race uncontrollably in moments of high stress. Although he can usually control any attacks, Taylor is getting to the age where the opposite sex are starting to catch his interest, which isn’t helping his situation.

Krystal Image courtesy of Paladin Film

One day he spots an attractive woman named Krystal (Rosario Dawson), and he follows her into what turns out to be an AA meeting where she confesses that she has issues with drugs and alcohol which led her to a life of stripping and prostitution. But she’s turned her life around by focusing on raising her 16-year-old son Bobby (Jacob Latimore of The Maze Runner, Detroit, and the Showtime series “The Chi”), who is in a wheelchair thanks to a car accident caused by his absent father (who, played by rapper T.I., of course turns up at the exact wrong time). With nothing to lose and by borrowing a personality and backstory from another person in the meeting, Taylor begins to turn on the charm with Krystal, and while she isn’t initially impressed, she does like that this 18-year-old gets along with her son, so she doesn’t chase him off.

Macy and his real-life wife Felicity Huffman play Taylor’s highly successful parents, while The Flash himself (Grant Gustin) plays his older brother. Krystal also has amusing supporting performances by William Fichtner as Taylor’s pill-popping doctor and Kathy Bates as his boss at the local art gallery. The film is effectively a coming-of-age story about a kid that might literally die if he lives the life he wishes he could. But it’s also about getting through the trials of your past and setting a path for yourself that will take you through the rest of your life.

Set in the south, the film also features a great deal of laid-back, rural wisdom that you’ll either find charming or sickeningly annoying. Overcoming fear is a big hurdle in both Taylor and Krystal’s lives, but Robinson and Dawson keep a great deal of the movie grounded, avoiding sentimentality in favor of just playing good people. That shouldn’t sound like such an accomplishment, but in this day and age, I’ll take it. There are times when the movie feels like it’s more eccentricities over substance, but overall it holds its own thanks to a strong cast, a subtle charm and sense of humor, and a spirited outlook on a type of living.

The film opens today at the AMC Showplace Village Crossing 18 in Skokie.
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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.