The life of Cherry (Tom Holland) is depicted across a number of chapters. As a university student, he falls for Emily (Ciara Bravo), but a breakdown in their relationship prompts him to enlist in the army. Posted in Iraq, he works as an army medic, and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder upon his return. He and Emily, who he wed shortly before leaving for the army, develop an opioid addiction. Cherry proceeds to rob banks as the couple sink into debt.
If the above summary of the movie ‘Cherry’ sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Over the film’s 140 minute running time, a whole lifetime (though the feature covers only a few years) is packed in, not to say that that’s necessarily a problem. While it can feel overly busy, and a bit long, ‘Cherry’ works for the most part. One is engaged by the story and suffering of its characters, compelled to know how or if it’ll all work out.
Ciara Bravo is extremely sweet and sympathetic in the role of Emily. Moreover it’s great to see Irish actor Jack Reynor back, though his character, drug dealer Pills and Coke, is repulsive, as established from his first scene where he interacts with a young woman with Down’s syndrome. The movie is carried by Tom Holland almost entirely, and while he’s not as charismatic as he is as Peter Parker, nor as enthralling in his previous dramatic turn in Netflix movie ‘The Devil All the Time’, the young actor continues to exhibit an impressive range.
‘Cherry’ has its flaws though, feeling a clichéd at times, such as its voiceover narration which recalls something from a Scorsese movie as the character narrates the highs and (far more frequent) lows of his life. The first sequence depicting his life as a university student draws likeness with ‘Catcher in the Rye’, as the protagonist thinks everything sucks and sees himself as above everyone else. Still, Emily brings light and colour (literally, in a ‘Wizard of Oz’-esque moment) into his life. He becomes totally besotted, and their love is beautifully depicted. They can be pretty dumb kids, but they’re cute.
The army training sequences prove surreal and stylised, while the war sequences are savage with some very graphic moments. The PTSD Cherry suffers is brutal too. Having previously used drugs to escape, they’ve now become a crutch for the character. As we get into the bank robberies aspect of the plot, the genre becomes more thriller than drama, and with romance and war having preceded, and it being an overall coming-of-age story, the film really is (as previously mentioned) a lot to take in. Still, ‘Cherry’ is well-written and acted, with some interesting visuals. It’s certainly a conversation starter.
'Cherry' is streaming on Apple TV+ from March 12th.