Cherry: Another Review – Joe and Anthony Russo’s follow-up to the highest-grossing film of all time, Avengers: Endgame, is a dark, somber, depressing experience that will leave you on edge with its realistic portrayal of addiction throughout. Starring Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Jeff Wahlberg, and Michael Rispoli, the premise centers around an Army medic with PTSD, who becomes addicted to opioids and starts robbing banks to pay for the addiction.
Similar to Malcolm & Marie, Cherry will undoubtedly go down as one of the most divisive films this year given its style and sensitive subject matter. The first hour, focusing mainly on Holland’s “Love” and “Soldier” storylines, shows you the horrors of war and how every day may be your last. The depiction of how one can change after a tragic incident from a warm friendly individual to one that’s cold and unremorseful is one that will hit audiences more than previously expected with its stance on PTSD and depression leaving a cold, lasting impact on the viewers. Yet, it’s the plot in the second half that will hit close to home for a lot of people. The way opioids affect his life, creating a lasting impact on those around him is what will truly change one’s perspectives on how they see the film.
The Russo’s know how to cater to a young adult audience with their 6-chapter storyline working incredibly well for the story at hand. However, for me, as someone who hasn’t struggled with addiction or been to war, Cherry proved to be an insight into the world of opioids, the dangers they bring, and why one who’s addicted to them can destroy their life. This, mixed with the extensive narration, starting the film at a very late point in the story and then spending 120 minutes going “how did we get here?”, a trope many use in an attempt to show the audience what’s happened ahead of time, worked well, showing his thief stage before rewinding back and showing the watching audience how he got into this situation made me all the more impacted by his experience.
It’s clear to see what the Russo’s were going for here. They wanted to bring awareness to the lifestyle of many young men and women who serve their country and end up worse off. From an outside perspective, this inevitably impacted me more as time progressed and for many audience members whose lives have been fortunate enough to not be in this situation, it will educate them on a subject matter many would have normally glazed over. Nevertheless, it’s the engaging and ambitious effort from Tom Holland’s tour de force performance that truly enhances the film. He does a great job at stretching his comfort zones while immersing himself in the role in such a way that not once do you ever see him as Peter Parker.
There’s no doubt that the success of the film comes down to his performances as it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role being able to reach the depth he goes into for this. Alongside Holland, his co-star Ciara Bravo manages to give a fantastic, devastating performance with her character adding emotional weight to the story by showing how PTSD and addiction can not only destroy the life of the sufferer, but also the lives of those closest to them. She adds to the film considerably, with her character’s development and downwards spiral proving pivotal to the story as a whole.
However, Cherry isn’t the fantastic film many, including myself, were hoping it would be. It’s over-stylized to the point you’re left scratching your head at the choices made and sadly with a 140+ minute runtime it feels prolonged far past its need as the film would have easily benefited from ending at the exact moment you think it is, rather than going into an “epilogue” that sadly takes much of the emotional impact away in its final moments. Nevertheless, a bigger problem arises for those situated in America who may be less enlightened by the film, due to it occurring in their own back yard and adding no new information to the situation. It’s a film that, despite its dark nature, plays it all far too safe and thus those who already know about the crisis will undoubtedly be longing for a more personalized experience once it concludes.
This is where the film will undoubtedly be a hit or miss depending on your knowledge of the situation. Many of us in the United Kingdom, especially our young adults, hold very little knowledge of the American Midwest opioid crisis, and thus our outlook on the storyline will be different from those in the United States. As someone who knew nothing about the situation, It gave me enough information to keep me hooked throughout yet plays it safe by not fully personalizing the story and instead opting for a broader outlook on things.
There’s no doubt Joe and Anthony Russo are coming from a good, sincere place with the storyline with the message about the American Opioid pandemic proving insightful for international audiences, but it’s also one that could have been much stronger if they had spent a little more time developing the message and personalizing the story more to our characters rather than trying to give a broader look on the situation.
Yet, thanks to Tom Holland and Ciara Bravo, who carry the whole film on their backs for the entire runtime, the film packs an emotional punch that will stay with you long after the credits roll. It may not be anything new to American audiences, but for me and many international ones, it offered a unique look into this depressing world and stayed with me long after the credits began.
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