The Russo Brothers (Joe and Anthony) have solidified themselves into cinematic history through their amazing direction of now Marvel classics “Avengers Endgame,” “Avengers Infinity War,” “Captain America – Civil War” and “Captain America – The Winter Soldier” – not to mention their cult tv classic for NBC – “Community.” Their latest effort Cherry is not any of that.
In an adaptation of Nico Walker’s novel (written by Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg), we meet our troubled hero Cherry (Tom Holland) in flashbacks going to college and falling for Emily (Ciara Bravo). However when she makes the decision of transferring to a school in Montreal; a distraught Cherry joins the Army. Unbenownst to him, Emily changes her mind and stays, but he is unable to get out of his commitment to Uncle Sam. .
They marry and his s first combat as a medic proves to be physically and psychologically destructive to his psyche, after witnessing his best friend dies right in front of him. A situation, upon returning home is briefly remedied by prescription of oxycontin, which eventually he and Emily become junkies. Resorting to bank-robbing in order to afford their habit and stay in the good graces of a non-suspecting dealer known as “Pills & Coke” (Jack Reynor), the film becomes a catalyst for watching a seemingly all-American couple thrown their lives away without any regard for all those they take down along the way.
It’s a wild coming of age story gorgeously shot with really intriguing uses of slow motion to belabor some scenes and gruesomely intensify others. The soundtrack choices range for etherial to classical in the second half of the film matching the exact opposite of the onscreen action making it fascinating to Ingest. Breaking the story into chapters – Love, Bootcamp, Dope Life and Epilogue make it easy to see how these characters become caught in trapped in their life choices with a modern day love story which rival Romeo and Juliet set among opiod fiends.
I particularly love the metaphorical meaning in Cherry. Outside of being the lead character’s name, for me it the name and title represent the intensified sexual encounters while high with Emily, the popping o a cherry as a soldier, convict, bank robber, drug dealer, husband, drug user and friend, not to mention the symbolism of red being the color of bloodshed that sorely comes at a cost throughout the tale.
Cherry is intensely dramatic, but, so are the many millions of opiate addictions and deaths that occurred throughout the US alone in 2020. We see how prescriptions, in many instances can serve as an ATM for drug companies who continue to thrive financially as long as people stay addicted.
Bravo Russo Brothers for successfully pivoting into a different film genre with guts, gusto and glory.