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Cherry: A Super Stylish Drama Featuring A Solid Performance From Tom Holland

February 25, 2021
Poster courtesy of Apple TV

Quick Thoughts: – B- – Based on the 2018 novel by Nico Walker, Cherry is a stylish vision of a man’s descent into crime and drugs. While the performances are solid, and the cinematography inspired, the Russo Brothers directed film never hits a believable rock-bottom, as it’s more glossy than harrowing.

Cherry focuses on the downward spiral of a listless teenager named Cherry (Tom Holland), who in a moment of heartbreak, enters the military and becomes an Army medic. The film starts off in Cleveland, Ohio, where Cherry is living a boring post-high school life that involves college, occasional drug use, and doing nothing with his friends. He eventually meets Emily, a beacon of light in his boring world, and the two hit it off and eventually fall in love. However, after she decides to move to Canada to go to college, Cherry enlists in the military, and after a Full Metal Jacket-esque bootcamp, is shipped off to the “Triangle of Death,” located 30 miles outside of Baghdad. When he gets back home as a decorated veteran, he quickly finds his life unraveling as his crippling PTSD pushes him towards drug addiction, bank robberies and dependency on a seedy drug dealer named Pills & Coke (Jack Reynor) .

The film is propelled by Cherry’s ongoing narration, which navigates us through his various ordeals involving the death of his friends and coming into the crosshairs of a drug dealer with serious demon vibes. One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is how it’s broken up into six distinct and visually different chapters that showcase the various stages of his life. It’s a unique narrative tool that feels a bit disruptive to the overall fluidity of the story. The script by Angela Russo-Ostot (The Shield, V) and Jessica Goldberg (Parenthood, Away) is solid, and it allows Holland to showcase acting chops that don’t involve being a superhero. Also, the cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel (Drive, Three Kings, Da 5 Bloods) looks excellent, and it must’ve taken a lot of planning to get the six visual styles to blend together and be visually distinctive.

The biggest issue with Cherry is how it goes all-in on being visually appealing when it should be exploring darker territories. That’s not to say that it should be Trainspotting or Requiem for a Dream, it’s just that by breaking it up into six distinct looking chapters, and focusing on the visual aesthetic, the attention is drawn away from the ugliness that addiction does to people’s lives. It’s a smart move to tone down the Requiem for a Dream-nastiness, so the film can become more mainstream and accessible, it just won’t have the lasting effect of the more hard-hitting films. On the plus side, having Tom Holland star in the film will bring more eyes towards the opioid crisis, which is a good thing, and it would be unrealistic to expect Holland to go-for-broke when he anchors blockbuster films. I just wish that the Russo’s would’ve taken a more meat-and-potatoes (AKA simple) approach to the adaptation, and focused more attention towards the effects of addiction and PTSD.

Conclusion: Cherry looks great, and Tom Holland is solid, I just wanted more from this film.

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