He was born Anton Viktorovich Yelchin on March 11, 1989, but to his parents, he would always be Antosha. He was their only son, and they loved him dearly. Yelchin reciprocated, but tragedy came all the same. On June 19, 2016, Yelchin was killed, pinned between his vehicle and his front gate after his Jeep Grand Cherokee slipped gear and rolled down the driveway. He was 27.
Besides his 69 movie and TV credits, many of them impressive performances, not much was known about the young actor’s personal life at the time of his death. He was a consummate performer, a musician, and a studied cineaste. Just weeks before the accident, Yelchin was about to embark on a career as a director. And unless you worked with him, you weren’t privy to Yelchin’s insatiable curiosity, his extensive journaling, and his lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis.
Yelchin was the kind of performer who made everything on the screen look easy — natural, even. But as Love, Antosha shows, that naturalism was the product of hours of work, study and thought. Even better, Yelchin loved documenting every second of it and Love, Antosha is flush with archival footage, home movies, and photographs from Yelchin’s collection.
Directed by Garret Price, Love, Antosha further benefits from a myriad of talking heads interviews, some of them quite casual. Chris Pine, who starred with Yelchin in three Star Trek movies looks as if he was interviewed shortly after waking. And with an openness and frankness reserved for black coffee and fried eggs, Pine gives Love, Antosha more than the usual stories.
A myriad of celebrities dots the remainder of the film: Kristen Stewart (who starred with Yelchin in Fierce People), Jennifer Lawrence (Like Crazy and The Beaver), Ben Forester (Alpha Dog), and Jon Voight (Court of Conscience), who is allegedly responsible for suggesting the doc.
And thanks to the co-operation of Yelchin’s parents, Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin — two world-famous ice dancers who defected from Russia during the rise of anti-Semitism when Yelchin was seven months — Love, Antosha is better than the usual bio-doc fare. The results are genuine and effective, and the lost of Yelchin as an artist is all the harder hit, especially since it was not self-inflicted. As Martin Landau says in one of the interviews: Love, Antosha is a chance for the world to not race past Yelchin’s death, but to acknowledge a life lived.
Directed by Garret Price
Produced Drake Doremus, Adam Gibbs
Starring: Anton Yelchin
mTuckman Media, Rated R, Running 92 minutes, Opens August 30, 2019