CHERRY Review; "The Russo Brothers Deliver A Storytelling And Filmmaking Masterpiece"

Cherry is the first movie directed by the Russo Brothers since Avengers: Endgame was released, and alongside stars Tom Holland and Ciara Bravo, the filmmakers have proved there's more to them than Marvel.

The Russo Brothers have kept busy since Avengers: Endgame was released, producing and writing some great movies through their AGBO production label (including Extraction and Mosul). However, they return to directing for Cherry, a masterclass in filmmaking which proves that there’s much more to Joe and Anthony than just capes, shields, and special effects. With a phenomenal screenplay penned by Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg, the movie is a hard-hitting look at the life of a young man who falls in love, joins the Army, and then returns home with PTSD and a serious opioid addiction. Desperation soon do a series of daring bank robberies. That’s an oversimplification of how things play out, of course, but those specific stages of Cherry’s life serve as a basis for a movie which should dominate awards season following its release in theaters on February 26th, and an Apple TV+ debut on March 12th.

Cherry does a fantastic job highlighting the often ignored opioid crisis. Rather than just showing us the effects of that, it makes us understand how it can happen, expertly addressing the ramifications of falling down that rabbit hole because of the bad hands you've been dealt by life. The movie is often heartbreaking, and whether it’s the innocence of Cherry and Emily as they fall in love, the horror of being thrown into war as a young man, or making us come to terms with how easy it is for some to fall into the pits of despair, the story is handled in a thoughtful, impactful way that will stick with you long after the credits roll. Yes, it can occasionally make for difficult, grim viewing (especially during the final act), but there’s plenty of optimism as well, and the Russos managed to balance everything from teen romance to drug addiction perfectly. 

From a filmmaking perspective, Cherry is a huge departure from the Russos, and there are some incredible uses of the camera here, whether it’s everyone around Cherry and Emily blurring away while they have their first conversation, or the unique aspect ratio used for the Army training scenes. It feels a lot like the filmmaker’s wanted to experiment and try some new things here, though it never feels like these concepts are thrown in as a way for Joe and Anthony to show critics they can do more than just make blockbusters; there's always a reason for these moments. 

In terms of the cast, the movie features some memorable supporting turns, but hinges primarily on Tom Holland and Ciara Bravo. They’re incredible, and make us buy into the love Cherry and Emily have for each other from the start. Holland starts off playing a kid not all that different to Peter Parker (perhaps a little more hardened), but takes the character, and perhaps himself as a performer, on a journey unlike any other. His cynical, damaged young man, is easy to relate to and understand, and while you might think robbing banks to fund a drug addiction sounds extreme, Holland’s masterful work means it’s not a concept we struggle to buy into. Every bit as believable at the end of this movie as he is at the beginning, this is a career best performance from the actor. Bravo, meanwhile, puts herself on the map here in a huge way and makes one thing clear: she’s a star. Every bit as good as Holland, and every bit as convincing when it comes to the journey she takes Emily on, Cherry establishes the actress as an absolute powerhouse of a performer, and we cannot wait to see what she does next. 

It’s all too easy to throw the word "masterpiece" around, but Cherry deserves it. Yes, the experiences with war and drug addiction hit a few familiar notes, but there are also plenty we haven't seen in movies remotely similar to this one before. Cherry's narration and fourth wall breaks are occasionally a little inconsistent, but with maximum effort from all those involved, this movie will take you on an emotional, powerful journey over the course of 150 minutes you’ll want to relive (even if it’s just to admire the work of the Russo Brothers and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel). Throw in Henry Jackman’s score and a superb soundtrack, and Cherry is not a movie you should miss. 

The Russo Brothers deliver a storytelling and filmmaking masterpiece with Cherry, an outstanding, unforgettable exploration of the opioid crisis with career best performances from Tom Holland and Ciara Bravo.


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