Cherry: AppleTV+ Film Review

Cherry

Tom Holland has joined forces with his Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo once again for a completely different kind of project – Cherry. But is it as successful as their previous collaborations? Not so much.

Cherry, based on the semi-autobiographical book of the same name by Nico Walker, tells the story of a US Army medic who suffers PTSD when he returns home and turns to opioids like OxyContin and heroin to numb the pain. To fund his junkie lifestyle, he turns to robbing banks.

That is the plot of Cherry in a nutshell but the film is an epic two hours and 20 minutes, so there is a lot more to it than that. The film is split into five decently-sized chapters bookended by a prologue and an epilogue, which basically depict the same events. Part one is set in 2002 when the protagonist known as Cherry meets Emily (Ciara Bravo) at college and they fall in love. During a brief split, Cherry signs up for the army and drops out of college, marrying Emily just before he goes off to Iraq. The next two chapters cover his two years in the army, and the following two parts depict his return, his PTSD, and his and Emily’s descent into “dope life”.

The film is tonally all over the place. It starts off as this irreverent crime drama, with Holland doing a lot of voiceovers and talking to the camera, then there’s a teen high school romance section, then a war movie, and then a drug/crime movie. It is also way longer than it needs to be – I truly believe we would have been fine if the film had started at part three as the meeting Emily and army training chapters aren’t completely vital to our understanding or connection to the story. I also thought the screenplay was weak, it relied on the voiceover too much, and the film was overstylised, with words occasionally appearing on screen, the aspect ratio changing for no apparent reason, and sometimes there were weird unfocused, grainy elements surrounding a focal point in certain shots.

To his credit, Holland comes out of this quite well. This is his most mature and complex role to date and although I couldn’t quite suspend my belief enough to believe him as a drug addict bank robber, I thought he threw his all into the part, which required him to go to a very dark place emotionally and drop a bit of weight to look frail and deathly thin. There is a scene in which he cries on the phone and I thought he did a terrific job with that. Bravo is completely new to me but I thought she was solid as Emily, although it really annoyed me that she went from being a responsible teacher to taking the “if you can’t beat them join them” approach to taking EFFING HEROIN. Other notable supporting cast members include Jack Reynor as the drug dealer and Forrest Goodluck as Cherry’s pal James.

I know you don’t have to actively enjoy all movies to like or appreciate them, but I found Cherry really bloody depressing. I hated watching these two lovely good-looking kids destroy their lives and slowly kill themselves, and the film depicts their junkie lifestyle in a really grim and gritty detailed way. Needless to say, Cherry really outstays its welcome and becomes a slog to get through.

Streaming on AppleTV+ from Friday 12th March

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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