The Russo brothers return with their first directorial effort since Avengers Endgame, though this one is a modern epic of a different kind. Cherry follows a title character of the same name (played by a never better Tom Holland), from college drop-out to PTSD suffering war medic. Based on the novel by Nico Walker, with a screenplay penned by Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg, Cherry hits all the beats you’ve seen before but it’s stylistic direction and committed performances make up for the screenplay’s familiarities.
The film is split into 6 parts which follow Cherry from 2002-2007. These parts can be defined as pre-war and post-war. Each part is unique, and this is achieved through changing tones, which are reflected by the cinematography and the committed performances of Holland and Ciara Bravo. However, the Russo’s approach does not always land. Whilst it is bold and at times brilliant filmmaking, the shift in tone, specifically in the post-war parts, can come across as drab and repetitive. This may have been an intentional choice to show the reality of PTSD and drug addiction, but it is important to strike a balance between style and subject and in certain parts, Cherry fails to do that.
One aspect of Cherry that cannot be faulted is Holland’s performance. Holland plays Cherry through multiple life altering scenarios. These range from meeting his wife Emily at College, to signing up to the army, to committing robberies in order to pay for his dope addiction. If you had reservations about Holland’s versatility before, his performance in Cherry shatters that. Holland gives a tour-de-force performance that defines the films place as a modern epic. Without the commitment of Holland’s performance, Cherry simply would not work. However, Holland is not the only one who deserves praise as Bravo’s performance as Cherry’s wife Emily, is equally impressive. She anchors Cherry from the moment they first meet, and sticks with him throughout the good, the bad and the ugly. As with Holland, the commitment Bravo brings to Emily allows Cherry to elevate itself beyond the familiar screenplay.
Praise must be given to Henry Jackman’s score, which reflects Cherry’s spiralling psyche throughout the film, whether that be a state of loss or redemption. The final part of the film relies heavily on Jackman’s score to support the storytelling and it excels at doing so.
All in all, Cherry is a film that successfully transcends its familiar screenplay through stylish direction, outstanding performances and a brilliant score. Whilst it will be divisive, and it doesn’t always hit the highs it aims for; its successes outweigh the misses.