What is the story about?
The film tells the story of Cherry, his various experiences in the US Army, and his struggles with PTSD and drug addiction.
It's not a good thing when you sit down to watch a film directed by the Russo Brothers, and you keep checking the runtime to see how long it will take for the movie to end. This is not a complaint about the content of the film, however. Nico Walker's 2018 novel Cherry, loosely based on the author's own tumultuous experiences, comes to life in a wry, funny, heartbreaking screenplay. Beginning from 2002, we see Cherry float through life, hanging out with friends and doing the occasional snort and fall in love with the charming Emily at high school. The lightheaded nature of young love comes to haunt both of them when, in a moment of impulsiveness, Cherry enlists in the US Army. The Russo Brothers show, with carefully-crafted operatic flourishes, how the war scars Cherry, and his slow painful disintegration mentally is heartbreaking to watch. What is even more difficult to watch is how Cherry copes, or struggles to cope with civilian life, and how easily he becomes a drug addict.
Walker's novel, and consequently the film, are both grounded in real experiences. However, at a run-time of two-and-a-half hours, this film feels unbearably long. Since Cherry himself is the narrator, the narrative keeps meandering into unnecessary turns, in spite of the realistic depictions of America's drug epidemic. Ultimately, this renders the film an exhausting experience which could've been better edited.
Tom Holland puts in an epoch-defying performance as Cherry, the happy-go-lucky guy who slowly--and incredibly--transforms into a broken shell addicted to cociane. Ciara Bravo gives him able support as Emily, his high-school sweetheart, who also falls into the morass of drug addiction along with him. Jack Reynor is suitably menacing as the drug dealer Pills and Coke. Damon Wayans Jr. is hilarious in a cameo as a Drill Sergeant in the army.
Music & Other Departments
Henry Jackman's operatic score lends this film the gravitas of a Greek tragedy even at its most funny moments. Newton Thomas Sigel's camera seems to float around, capturing panoramic sweeps of the slow disintegration of Cherry's existence.
The war sequences are shot with the grand sweep of a Greek tragedy.
The film could have been more tightly edited. It feels even longer than it actually is.
Did I enjoy it?
I enjoyed portions of the film, but somehow the whole film did not work for me.
Do I recommend it?
If you have a bit of patience, and want to see how bad the drug crisis in America looks right now, this is an okay place to start.