Released: 12th March
Seen: 9th June
I’ll admit, I’ve been pretty neglectful when it comes to my Apple Plus subscription. I’ve had the service now for a while, never paid for it because it came free with my phone, and yet I’ve watched a grand total of about 6 things on it. A few episodes of Defending Jacob (never finished the series, I assume Jacob got defended), The Out on Television docuseries, Disclosure, Greyhound, Wolfwalkers and Palmer.
That’s it, that’s all I’ve reviewed here from this service. Why? Because it’s a bad subscription service that has next to no content and has an awful interface that was clearly designed by people who don’t want you to find anything to watch on their service because there’s nothing there to watch. At least with Netflix I’ll spend an hour choosing what to watch, on Apple Plus I’m spending an hour trying to figure out how to find the movies they have available because no one’s figured out how to organise the 42 programs that they have. This means I’ve been very slow to watch their new releases because, frankly my dears, I just didn’t give a damn.
So this is why it took me three months to sit and watch Cherry and to be honest I could’ve probably waited another three months or just not bothered because it wasn’t very good.
Cherry is the story of Army veteran and junkie Cherry (Tom Holland), a young man who seemingly had no hope in life despite looking like Tom goddamn Holland. He signed up to the army because his girlfriend went to study in Canada (no really, that’s why) and while he was in the army he saw a lot of awful things that gave him PTSD. In order to help Cherry cope with the PTSD he goes from Xanax to OxyContin to Heroin in rapid succession, taking his girlfriend Emily (Clara Bravo) down with him as his life spirals into a vortex of addiction.
Since heroin is one of the more expensive drugs, Cherry decides that the way to pay back his drug dealer is to start robbing banks. Naturally this only makes things worse because it means he has a lot more money to spend which he spends on heroin. Cherry then does more heroin, gets into more debt, has to rob more banks, which means he can buy more heroin. This cycle repeats for about an hour and a half because the Russo brothers (the people who directed this film) managed to make audiences sit through several 2 and a half hour movies already, surely they can do it again right?
No, no they can’t. The problem here is that the Russo brothers are still in full Marvel movie mode when they’re actually making an intimate drama about PTSD and the way veterans are left abandoned after they’ve done their duty. This means that everything is filmed like you’re meant to be in awe of every single visual element, from a weird shot where everyone is frozen and the camera speeds around the room to random large red blocks of text filling the screen for frantic emphasis to a shot from inside Cherry’s colon that is kind of like that shot in Little Shop Of Horrors from the inside of a patient’s mouth only with less teeth. These visuals are interesting but oh god do they not match the story being told.
There’s also the weird mix of narration and fourth wall breaking. There’s every stylistic weird choice you can think of and it’s there because… well, the men making this just came from making the second highest grossing movie of all time so they pretty much can do whatever they like and no one is going to stop them. Maybe someone should’ve maybe stopped them to remind them that this little intimate movie about a drug addicted veteran is going to look stupid if you give him shots where he delivers long monologues to camera while people around him move in slow motion. The visuals never feel like they match the story being told, they’re there to look pretty.
Yep, Cherry is another Nice Video, Shame About the Song movie.
The story itself is actually pretty emotional, or it should be. It’s actually based on a book by the same name written by Nico Walker and it’s basically autobiographical, Walker wrote this story in prison where he was serving an 11 year term for multiple bank robberies. It’s clearly an important story about how veterans are treated and their mental health in general but the film turns it into borderline farce through the visuals that are just turned up to 11 at all times.
The thing that saves Cherry from being unwatchable is Tom Holland, who gives the best performance of his career. No joke, this is the kind of performance that shows off every single skill that he has. You want to know if this kid can play a tough guy? Hell yeah he can. Can he be drugged out of his mind? Easily. Can he somehow break the fourth wall while somehow never breaking character? Better than most other actors. It’s a genuinely incredible performance that’s trapped inside a film that is using hyper stylisation to undermine everything he’s doing.
The other actors in Cherry, particularly Ciara Bravo, also do a hell of a job making the material they’ve been handed somehow work. They created instantly interesting characters who I might’ve wanted to spend an hour and a half with, but not two and a half hours and certainly not two and a half hours while the directors look up another video on how to do a cool effects shot and work it into the film where it doesn’t belong.
Oh, yeah, forgot to mention that Cherry is like half an hour longer than it needs to be in order to make this work. I know they have the ability to do montages, the film didn’t need to be split into 5 parts with a prologue and epilogue! Honestly, I can’t think of many films that need to be split into chapters like it’s a book but certainly not your PTSD-drug-crime-drama film starring Spider-Man!
Cherry is a film you watch if you want to see Tom Holland show off just how goddamn talented he is. This is the kind of performance you watch and go “I’m going to see a golden statue in this kid’s hand someday” because it is a genuinely amazing piece of work by an actor who has only really been asked to be the sweet and innocent Peter Parker (OK and maybe he got to be a little dark in Devil All The Time but nowhere near as dark as he goes here). His performance is just weighed down under such hyper stylism that it becomes distracting and then actively hurts the film.