Streaming on Apple TV+, ★★★☆☆
Based on Nico Walker’s novel of the same name, the film Cherry follows the gritty, unfiltered story of a war veteran who robs banks to support his opioid addiction to cope with severe PTSD.
This film is certainly ambitious. It aims to tackle a lot of important themes like addiction, war and mental health in an authentic, unromanticized way.
While this undertaking is crucial, the final product of the film is a mixed bag: drastically excelling in some areas while falling short in others. Even so, there is a list of notable highlights that can’t go unmentioned.
To start, the acting is phenomenal.
Simply put, Tom Holland (Cherry) and Ciara Bravo (Emily) are brilliant. The care and effort they each put into their performances is exceptional and unwavering. Not only do they do their characters justice, but their portrayals carry a high degree of respect and consideration for the larger issues of drug addiction and trauma at play.
It’s easy to get swept up in their performances, and, at times, their joint efforts mask the film’s shortcomings. That said, there are times when the film’s flaws are too overt to ignore.
The main issues of the film are to do with the direction, the writing and the inconsistencies in their quality.
The film’s dialogue contains some one-liners that are great, but there are other moments that sound bad or cliché. The majority of the plot is solid, but on multiple occasions, there are scenes that, if cut altogether, would not disrupt the narrative.
Worst of all, the ending is a condescending, unearned departure from the film’s unromanticized attitude toward its main themes. To be clear, the ending does not undermine the story, but, with its tone and mood, it doesn’t belong, either.
In many ways, the direction is no better. The film’s directors – Anthony and Joe Russo – adopt a highly stylized approach that doesn’t always pay off.
It seems as though the Russo brothers had a grand old time playing with the film’s visuals and camera filters, but, unfortunately, no one was around to tell them to pump the brakes.
Watching the film in a single sitting is like watching seven different films strung together with cohesiveness being an afterthought.
In all fairness, the majority of the “films” in this movie are good, even great at times, but the feeling of watching one stylistically fascinating film was left to be desired.
Despite its defects, Cherry is worth watching for those who already have a subscription to Apple TV+ or who perhaps enjoy crime dramas. Unfortunately, the film isn’t strong enough to warrant signing up for Apple TV+ on its own merit.
Published in Volume 75, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 25, 2021)