Film Reviews

“A Slog of Misery and Angst” – Film Review: Cherry

Alex Watkin

The Russo brother’s Cherry is a bland film, which leaves you with very little… In a way Cherry is similar to Inception. Like Christopher Nolan after Dark Knight, Anthony and Jo Russo have been granted creative freedom to create the films that they want to due to the success of their mega-budget superhero films, culminating with Avengers Endgame. The difference is, if the Russo brothers continue to make films like Cherry, they will quickly lose any positive reputation they built up directing their superhero flicks.

The film deals with the subjects of the Iraq war, PTSD and drug abuse though a story about the titular character Cherry (Tom Holland). Unfortunately, the film only superficially explores these issues. It all comes off as ‘been there done that’. It plays like a clip show of better films without ever settling and finding its own identity. It tries to attempt too much with too little substance.

Yet, what makes it worse is the overly flashy and snazzy direction. There are so many unconventional choices, which could be interesting but are ultimately redundant. You could say the cinematography and presentation are ‘creative’, but that really misses the point. This type of cinematography belongs in adverts; it can be used appropriately in cinema, but there has to be proper reason.

For example, The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) uses similar cinematic devices to Cherry, such as the breaking of the fourth wall, rapid pacing, and flashy camera work. This style of presentation works for The Wolf of Wall Street because it’s a film about excess and it feels like an authentic extension of the central character. In Cherry, the style is misplaced. Some will be able to ignore it, and others will find it unignorably pretentious. I appreciate the attempt to explore a subjective POV, but ultimately it falls flat.

This all results in the film being oddly indicative of a shoddy teen drama

The style is too artificial for this subject matter. The lighting and camera movement are overly designed and everything has been colour graded to within an inch of its life. Also, the music can be obnoxious at times. It’s constantly playing and often comes off as simply a cheap trick to keep an audience engaged in a hollow story. This all results in the film being oddly indicative of a shoddy teen drama – the type that lacks authenticity.

Even when accepting the style as it is, it isn’t particularly well executed. Cherry’s internal monologue and breaking of the fourth wall are more often than not used for exposition that is already being adequately communicated by the visuals. When the internal monologue engages with something thematic it makes the film less interesting rather than more; Cherry will assert some obtuse sentiment and the film quickly moves on. If the film is going to spell itself out all the time, at least make it interesting.

In the official description it states plainly that Cherry is a character who ‘drifts’ through life. This is potentially worthwhile and many great films have dealt with main characters who similarly drift with little purpose. The issue comes towards the end of the film when Cherry does decide to make a decision. Despite the POV filmmaking, it poorly communicates why Holland’s character makes this significant choice at this specific time; it’s as if it happens simply because the script says it should.  This choice Cherry makes is at the crux of the film, so the fact that it’s ill-defined is at the centre of the issues with the film.

The Russo brothers didn’t have a story worth telling

If you are unable to connect with Tom Holland’s performance, the film fails both emotionally and intellectually. This results in a final sequence of mind-numbing pseudo profound slow-motion, which unintentionally veers towards the borders of parody. It is the final nail in the coffin and reveals fully that the Russo brothers didn’t have a story worth telling. It justifies itself on the basis of subject matter alone. A good story could have been found within this material, but the Russo brothers fail to do so.

The issue with Cherry is it’s both not enjoyable and not interesting. The mix of difficult subject matter and wishy-washy substance never bodes well – Cherry is no exception. Tom Holland’s casting seems like an attempt to compensate for this by giving audiences something to grasp onto to pull them through a slog of misery and angst. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, at least for me…

2 stars

Alex Watkin

Featured image courtesy of Tom Small via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @cherrymovietomholland via No changes made to these images.

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