Tom Holland and directors The Russo Brothers take a break from the superhero genre in Apple TV +’s Cherry. An adaptation of author Nico Walker’s same-titled novel, Cherry, follows the wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life. Only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances. Tom Holland stars as an unhinged character who drifts from dropping out of college to serving in Iraq as an army medic and is only anchored by his one true love, Emily (Ciara Bravo).
After Cherry returns home as a war hero, he battles the demons of undiagnosed PTSD. He spirals into drug addiction, surrounding himself with a menagerie of depraved misfits. Draining his finances, Cherry turns to bank robbing to fund his habit, shattering his relationship with Emily along the way. Cherry opens with our title character in the midst of completing a bank robbery, who then takes us back to explain how he arrived in his current predicament.
From the initial trailers, I had no clue about the route that Cherry was going to take. Furthermore, when I found out the running time was almost 2 ½ hours, I was curious about the directors’ angle to ensure the film didn’t drag. Working closely with screenwriters Angela Russo-Otstot & Jessica Goldberg, the directors tell Cherry in five parts that, in essence, play out as a novel on screen.
Tom Holland fully commits to the role. His character undergoes an arc from idealistic dreamer to eventual clean and sober reformed convict. I found myself relating to Holland’s character throughout two critical parts of the movie, his pre-military service, and military service. The character is disillusioned and knows that his life is going nowhere. When he decided to serve his country, I had the same feelings before joining the Air Force in 2003.
Once I got out, I had my struggles with anxiety and PTSD and refused to get help. There are scenes where Holland is speaking to a doctor who has the surname of whomever, and I’ve had those same feelings as you feel like no one cares and you’re just a number. While I never turned to drugs, the way that Cherry turns to harder narcotics is understandable. Primarily after, we see him dabbling in ecstasy and weed before he joins the military.
Holland has a natural chemistry with his co-stars. They include Forrest Goodluck portraying his childhood chum James and Jack Reynor, representing his dealer, Pills, and Coke. However, two of the most substantial roles in the film arrive in Jeff Wahlberg and Ciara Bravo’s form. Wahlberg portrays Jimenez, a battle buddy that Cherry meets in Basic Training, and forms an instant commodity. The two’s friendship reminded me of numerous relationships I’ve built in the Air Force that still carry on fourteen years after my enlistment ended.
Ciara Bravo portrays his girlfriend and eventual spouse, Emily. The script handles Emily and Cherry’s courtship naturally, mainly as we watch Cherry drag her down with him. The scenes of the couple’s co-dependency on each other are raw and grim, with The Russo brothers not holding back on the effects of drug use. Die-hard film fans will notice the director’s aspect ratio changes throughout the film, which I also enjoyed.
As previously mentioned, Cherry clocks in at almost 2 ½ hours. Cherry is a long film that may alienate some viewers, particularly with the overuse of voice overs and the character’s behavior. I found much to enjoy in Cherry and do recommend the film.
Final Grade: B
Cherry is showing in limited theaters now and will be available on Apple TV+ this Friday