Cherry is, at least, three different movies – a romantic drama, a war movie, and a crime thriller. Despite how off-kilter it is as a genre-bender, it may have worked had the filmmakers been interested in the story or characters. Instead, Cherry is an indulgent vehicle for its filmmakers to flaunt their bold experimental choices and test their boundless clout.
Those filmmakers are Anthony and Joe Russo, the directors of Avengers: Endgame. While I haven’t seen their work with Marvel, I’m a fan of their work on TV’s cult hit Community and I really enjoyed Netflix’s Extraction, a film they produced and Joe wrote. But, Cherry has the pair making such random, brash decisions that I never understood. Decisions only fearless directors whose previous movie made a billion dollars over the course of a single weekend could make. The filmmakers take big stylistic swings in Cherry that, I suppose they thought, were daring and provocative ways to address serious subject matter like PTSD, addiction, and substance abuse. But because this flare goes unsupported (which includes the final 10 minutes being shown in slow-motion), we can only assume the Russos are doing this because “they can”. I would happily listen to the Russos justify the method behind the storytelling madness some day but, in the meantime, I can only see Cherry as the unhinged mess it is.
The viewer starts feeling bad for Tom Holland, who previously worked with the Russos as Marvel’s Spider-Man. Holland is acting his ass off. He seems committed to the encompassing arc of a distraught man moved and disturbed by life’s unpredictability. Cherry is very much a movie about how we create, comprehend, and lean on coping mechanisms. Our anti-hero experiences a bad break-up, so he looks towards enrolling himself in the Army to distract himself. When his service leaves him with severe PTSD, he looks towards drugs to numb his psychological pain. In order to keep the addiction, he starts robbing banks which becomes a dependent source of income. Holland recognizes the desperation of his character, but he also understands the chase for safety and security. While this is good characterization on paper, Holland isn’t allowed to develop his character past stereotypical behaviour; including sanctimonious yet totally ineffective dialogue written by screenwriters Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg.
Cherry is simply the pits. A film that’s too full of itself to notice it’s remarkable mistakes.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie