Not everyone’s going to have an easy life. So this is about a young man (Tom Holland). He goes from college dropout to Army medic, and he serves two years in the Iraq war. He has PTSD when he returns home, which leads to drug addiction. This is an expensive habit to maintain, so he then takes to robbing banks. Now, this is one that had Oscar buzz at one point. Sure, the Russo brothers are better known for helming mega-blockbusters at Marvel, but there is a reason why their names are listed as directors on their best projects. They’ve got the talent, and I wanted to see what they would do with a smaller scale movie. Well, I think there is plenty done well in Cherry, but I feel that they are trying to do too much for just one film.
In case you couldn’t tell by the plot summary.
Now there are positive takeaways I had about this. I think this role very much allowed Tom Holland to showcase his range. I believe this story spans over two decades, and you believe whatever age they say he is. He goes from a bright-eyed teenager to a 30-year-old fiend in full-on Requiem for a Dream mode, and he does it convincingly without having a younger or older look-alike step in. I also enjoyed the direction of the Russo brothers. They feature some slick camera shots in this that you don’t see every day, and they also add a lot of small touches in the details that are easy to miss, like occupation name tags. I was never bored with this story from start to finish, which is saying something for a movie that is well over two hours long, but the story does split at the seams. This movie gets broken up into chapters, and each one is doing something drastically different than the previous. It all flows together from a logical and narrative through-line, but tonally, it is a bit jarring. I feel like this story would play better on television, and I’m not talking about a mini-series; I mean a multiple-season show. That is how much plot they are attempting to cover in one feature-length film, and it is just too much. If these characters had more room to breathe and develop, it would help immensely, and that brings me to my next critique: I was never emotionally invested in this. I never connected with the characters which is due to them not taking the time to give you a reason to root for them. I feel like this part was a cut made for time constraints, and it ends up being to the detriment of the film. Don’t get me wrong: the performances are all well-acted, it just left me wanting more.
At least Tom Holland walks away from this looking extremely capable.
Cherry is a daunting movie to recommend to anybody. Despite there being worthwhile bits and pieces, I wouldn’t want to sway somebody on the fence into watching it because of the flaws and because of the runtime. Also, the movie is never enjoyable at any point given the subject matter, which only gives even more reason for most to skip it. There is a reason why the reception of Cherry has been so mixed, so see it for yourself, but only if you really want to.
Cherry (2021) ***
– Critic for Hire