Tom Holland and Joe and Anthony Russo have teamed up again, but this time it’s on a project which is about as far away from the Marvel universe as it’s possible to get. Based on the book Nico Walker, Cherry is a compelling tale told in segments that use a different filmmaking style for each phase of the main character’s life.
Holland stars as Cherry, a young man trying to find a direction in life. He meets a young girl named Emily (Ciara Bravo), and soon begins a relationship with her. This phase of the film plays out as a young romance film and the audience is given a good look at their world.
When Emily decides to move to Montreal to go to school and escape the issues she has, Cherry goes into a downward spiral and enlists in the Army as a way to escape his pain and to try to find direction.
The film takes a dramatic turn at this point as Emily and Cherry reunite and marries but he is facing his pending military service which will split the couple. The film then pivots and becomes a war movie as we see Cherry go through Basic Training and then is deployed to Afghanistan as a medic. The horrors he experiences during his two years in the service traumatize him and he returns home to Emily with a severe case of PTSD which complicates their life and relationship.
The film then pivots again to show a descent into depression and drug addiction as Cherry and Emily fall deeply into the spell of drugs which causes Cherry to become more and more desperate to fund their habit which soon includes bank robbery.
While the film is deeply dark and depressing; there is a thread of hope throughout the film as despite their numerous issues; the bond between Emily and Cherry remains despite challenges well beyond what any normal relationship faces.
The honest and brutal nature of the story is amplified by the fact that this is a true story based on the life of Nico Walker. There have been films that depict the challenges facing Vets such as The Deer Hunter, Coming Home, and Born on the 4th of July, which underscores the struggles that Vietnam Vets faced after their service. While Cherry looks at a modern conflict, it underscores how Vets are still struggling to get the care they need as many survivors to return broken and unable to resume their lives.
Holland and Bravo have solid chemistry with one another and the story is gripping and engaging throughout. Seeing Holland in a much more mature and darker role than we are used to seeing him in shows that he has a range of talents and is very capable of taking on a variety of parts.
Joe and Anthony Russo moved well from their recent Marvel films to tell a deeply personal and troubling story. The fact that they cover the multiple genres in each of the film segments shows they are very talented filmmakers with a bright future.
Do not be shocked to see Cherry come up at the next awards season, as it is a film not to be missed. You can see it on Apple TV starting March 12th. and cinemas beginning February 26th.
4.5 Stars out of 5.