‘Cherry’ Review: Holland Shines in an Intimate Semi-Autobiographical Tale of Addiction and Crime

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) filmmaking brothers, Joe and Anthony Russo, take a break from the ‘Heroverse’ to present a drama that focuses on the world of crime, war and addiction. Cherry was adapted from a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name written by Nico Walker, a former medic in the US army and heroin addict who served time in prison for bank robbery. The movie was birthed through the pieces of the true life story of Nico Walker. Walker is a war veteran who went on more than 250 combat missions, but how he went from his peak to rock bottom is what the novel and movie tries to unravel . The movie follows the story of an unnamed protagonist, nicknamed Cherry (Tom Holland), who falls in love with college classmate, Emily (Ciara Bravo).

Image via AppleTV+
Tom Holland and Ciara Bravo in Cherry

It relays the dark tale of this young man in the span of 19 years. Cherry is divided into several parts, each giving Holland the opportunity to embody different aspects of the chapter’s narrative. Each part gives viewers different emotions to deal with. 

  • Prologue (2007) – A brief insight into Cherry’s life after his return from war
  • Part One: When Life Was Beginning I Saw You (2002) –  Cherry’s romantic life and his relationship with Emily
  • Part Two: Basic (2003) – The military training he undergoes in army camp
  • Part Three: Cherry – His arduous war journey
  • Part Four: Home (2005)– Cherry’s civilian life after war
  • Part Five: Dope Life – Cherry’s addiction and life of crime
  • Epilogue (2007-2021)– the consequences of his decisions and his prison life
Tom Holland in army camp  (Apple TV+) via Tumblr.comg/arvinrussell

Cherry’s innocuous life takes a bitter turn when he makes a stupid decision over a heartbreak. Emily’s impulsive decision to leave him and school in Montreal, Canada, is the catalyst for Cherry’s hasty decision to enlist in the army. However, Emily develops a change of heart  and decides to stay with him. They hastily get married at a courthouse before he is shipped to army camp. Life after military camp brings him face to face with the horrors of the Afghan-Iraqi war; the grisly violence; burnt bodies of his comrades and a disemboweled soldier.  These gruesome scenes etches a painful experience on Cherry, leaving him scarred and broken – Cherry won the war but lost himself. He returns home with a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and struggles to adapt to civilian life. 

The Easiest  Robbery Ever (Apple TV+) via Tumblr.comg/arvinrussell

Thereafter, he turns to drugs for comfort– starting with Oxytocin to help with the illness which leads to his strong addiction to heroin. Heroine is highly addictive, once Cherry got a taste of it, he was merely at its mercy. Emily joins him in this ‘dope life’, it wasn’t one filled with romance but ‘highs and lows’. Out of his constant need to satiate his drug addiction, he turns to robbing banks to fund his dope life. He succeeds at his first heist so easily, hence his constant robbery whenever he is low on cash. Cherry follows this ceaseless cycle of robbing banks and getting high– a broken man caught up in forces beyond his control. 

Cherry finds a loophole in the American military system and exploits it. It depicts how the military use up their soldiers and thrust them back into the society, not as a whole but merely as a shadow of their former selves. How they expect them to fit into civilian life without sufficient provision like adequate healthcare is beyond me. Cherry came back home a war hero but the healthcare system failed him. Cherry met with a doctor on his return home from war to help with his disorder- a doctor named Dr.Whomever. The only thing Dr. Whomever could give him was Oxytocin, no psychological evaluation- a way of saying just take the drug to keep your demons at bay. Whether the patient might get addicted to it wasn’t his problem. The name of the doctor is used to portray the failed American healthcare system and how the military gives little or no care at all to the post-war life of their veterans. Even Cherry regrets his decision to join the army and informs viewers “do not ever join the fucking army”.

(Apple TV+) via Tumblr.comg/arvinrussell

The Russo brothers toss an eponymous character to the viewers in Cherry to convey the movie’s plot of a young man’s combat between addiction and redemption. Cherry is a captivating story of the loss of a youth as his life spirals out of control right before his eyes and into a pit of addiction. He doesn’t go down alone into this hole of hopelessness– he draws innocent Emily in and they both share the mental pain and devastating transformation. The story is riveting enough to instigate viewers to pick up the book – I wouldn’t though cos I am not the reading type🌚.

Cherry boasts impressive visuals and cinematography to depict a familiar storyline and angle to the life of war, crime and addiction. The movie encourages viewers to show sympathy for drug addicts and those with PTSD. The youthful exuberance of Holland and Bravo makes the movie more compelling and powerful to watch. Cherry is like four different movies embedded in one; a war film, a crime drama, a heist movie and a teen movie. It is an overall average movie, which will merely fascinate viewers who want to see Holland in a more mature performance and need to be convinced  that he can shine in a role other than the one in which he crawls walls while exhibiting  mad reflexes, and also for those who are interested in the life changing story of Nico Walker.

Rating: 5/10

Side Musings  

  • The drill sergeants in Cherry remind me of Hacksaw Ridge. I would really like to experience the way they cuss and shout but Cherry already warned us never to join the fucking army 🤷‍♀️.
  • I can never unsee the scene where Holland’s butthole is shown during the medical army examination and Cherry’s humorous voiceover that “there was a man whose job it was to check everyone’s asshole”. I guess the Russo brothers did deliver in surprising fans with a new filmmaking narrative rather than their usual superhero movies.

Cherry is currently streaming on AppleTV+.

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