"Cherry" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
I wasn't sure what to expect from this new Russo brother's film from the trailers they released for their new film. I understood it's about a war veteran who comes back scarred, and therefore gives into drugs for comfort and relief from the pain and PTSD he has suffered.
After I watched this film, I sat back in my seat for a few minutes, processing what I had just watched as the credits float mindlessly by. I didn't know it when starting this film, but throughout the almost two and a half hour runtime, I had just witnessed one of the best performances in the past couple years delivered by the young Tom Holland.
The film opens up on a disgruntled young man (Holland), who we never learn the name of throughout the film, getting in his truck and driving off with a car following him. Holland's character then goes into a voice-over monologue describing experiences from his childhood. However, this takes a dramatic change in tone of the film when he approaches the man in the car that was following him, with information about a bank robbery that is about to go down. In similar style of films such as Pulp Fiction and Fight Club, the first shot of this film is starting at the end, and the rest are flashbacks leading up to this point.
The film revolves around our protagonist (Holland's character who people are referring to as Cherry) falling in love with a girl named Emily while in college. He ends his high school relationship with another girl, who cheats on him numerous times. He then strikes up a romance with Emily, who we find out has been abused and had a traumatic childhood.
Even though it seems like they have a really good relationship together, she unexpectedly announces that she's moving to Canada to attend college in an attempt to leave her abusive and traumatic childhood behind. This breaks his heart, and he decides to enlist in the army the next day. However, when she's supposed to leave for Canada, Emily regrets her decision and decides to stay with Cherry because she can't imagine life without him.
While in the army and going to war, Cherry sees unspeakable things and loses his closest friends to a surprise attack from the enemy. This affects him mentally when he returns home to Emily, and he's unable to sleep at night anymore. He starts to fall under the effects of oxycodone, and starts abusing the drug to get away from the evil and torturous thoughts and flashbacks in his head caused by PTSD from the war.
In my opinion, the best thing about this film is the performance given by the extremely talented Tom Holland. Every scene is so gripping with emotion, and your heart breaks for his character throughout the entire film. I've been a fan of Holland ever since Captain America: Civil War (also made by the Russo brothers), but I don't think he has had a real chance to show off all his potential and what he can bring to the table as a gifted actor. However, in this film, he has given one of the best performances of a drug addict that I have seen in the past few years. I think it is definitely fair to say that this young actor has an incredibly bright and amazing journey ahead of him, and I think he will be amongst the greats in the near future.
One of the scenes that Holland performed the best in, and has stuck with me hours after viewing, is the scene where Emily overdoses on heroin and is rushed to the hospital to be resuscitated. Holland goes in a manic state, and is so afraid of losing the love of his life. The part that made me the most emotional during this scene is when he is hysterical and tells the doctor he doesn't know what he would do without her. Anyone with a significant other can relate to this, and feel the pain and heartbreak he is going through in this scene. Holland does a fantastic job to express it on the screen.
I adore the cinematography and lighting effects throughout this film. One of my favorites is when Cherry takes ecstasy early on in the film, and everything is in black and white and very drab. Until he lays eyes on Emily, who is the only colorful thing in the room, representing the happiness in Cherry's life, the only reason for his existence. Another one of my favorite uses of camera angle and lighting is when he goes to the bank. When he goes in and talks to the tellers, the teller is covered in black clothes and is hidden in the shadows. The camera is lowered when we see the teller, symbolizing that she's a higher power who is too good for the low and middle class societies on the streets in America. What I absolutely love about this though is when Cherry goes back to rob this same exact bank later on in the film, the shadow goes away and we see a terrified woman, just trying to do her job and provide for herself. This shows that she's still a human being, just following a protocol given to her so she doesn't get fired. She's not the enemy, the corporation is, and Cherry realizes that when he sees her terrified face.
One detail to note in the film is the attention given to the names of things, places and people. For example, a couple of the banks are named "The Bank" and "Shitty Bank" to symbolize how the banks are taking advantage of the normal, everyday person trying to get by. Also, when Cherry goes to the doctor to try to get treatment from his PTSD from the war, the name plate on his desk reads "Dr. Whomever". The doctor is uncaring towards his patients and speaks to them in a demeaning manner. By not using proper names for people and places, it gives a more impersonal, almost ominous, vibe to the film.
This film, which is extremely hard to watch at certain moments, shows us the lives of these young adults and the trials and tribulations they will face when they make certain choices in life. The film doesn't shy away from the nitty gritty of the hard life of drugs, and that is very important for the awareness of drug abuse amongst young adults. I feel like this film is a huge step in the right direction for Holland's acting career, and it's going to be exciting to see where he goes in the future.