Based on the terrific autofictional novel by Nico Walker, CHERRY (2021, streaming on Apple TV) presents a story of a young man who goes to Iraq to serve his country only to come home with PTSD and develop a drug habit, leading to him robbing banks to support his addiction. It’s stylish and Tom Holland does a great job in the lead role, but the whole thing bogs on its well-trod formula.
I absolutely loved the novel by Walker. It’s repetitive to the point of being boring in many parts, and its last act cycles through the same stuff until it just sorta ends, but Walker has an incredible voice, raw and self-deprecating and heart-breaking in its honesty. It’s a very American voice, crying, “I believed in something and I’m screwed up and that’s who I am, I thought I’d be better at all this.”
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, who directed typical Marvel movies but produced some really interesting indie stuff like ASSASSINATION NATION, CHERRY tries to streamline this charming, sprawling novel into a tight, simple story with a highly sympathetic protagonist. As a result, it falls back on rote formula, which is only marginally improved by its overall competence and a lot of stylish direction borrowed from Martin Scorsese.
Overall, I liked it. In the end, it’s an important story, one that deserves repeated telling. The book just does it way, way better in my opinion.