The Dixie-set, coming-of-age tale “Krystal,” directed by William H. Macy and written by Will Aldis, is too forced, chaotic and randomly eccentric to make for a fully engaging and cohesive emotional experience.
Nick Robinson (“Love, Simon”) plays Taylor Ogburn, a quixotic 18-year-old with a peculiar heart condition that forces him to keep all stress and anxiety at bay: no college (really?), drinking, playing sports or, sigh, falling in love.
But Taylor, who speaks in the florid tones of some erstwhile Southern author’s creation, is such a whirling dervish that he regularly lands in the local emergency room, run by an absurdly loopy doctor (William Fichtner), to regulate his erratic heart.
All bets are off, though, when Taylor becomes besotted with Krystal (Rosario Dawson), a surly former stripper and hooker — and recovering heroin addict — more than twice his age, with a paraplegic son (Jacob Latimore, excellent) and a volatile ex-boyfriend (Tip “T.I.” Harris).
That Taylor pretends to be an alcoholic to woo Krystal at the AA meetings she attends is just one of many silly, troubling conceits that drive their unconvincing dynamic and, later, even less plausible romance.
Skilled support from Macy and Felicity Huffman as Taylor’s capricious parents, Grant Gustin as his artist brother and Kathy Bates, in a tacked-on role as a wise art gallery owner, can’t rescue this often exasperating, if earnest effort.
Rating: R, for language throughout, drug use, some nudity and brief sexuality
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: In general release