CHERRY.

CHERRY.

Note the full-stop in the title. Iím not going to employ it throughout the review because (a) its significance is lost on me, and (b) itís a grammatical nightmare when spell-checking what Iíve written. But note it Ö itís there. For some unknown reason.

Cherry (David Crane) is out drinking with his best friend Sam (Rey Valentin). While Cherry is quiet and respectful of the fairer sex, Sam carries enough confidence and chauvinism about him for the pair of them. One of his many philosophies on life is "if you ever fuck a chick who cries when she looks at your dick Ė fuck her!".

Their conflicting views on women are put to the test when Cherry notices the attractive Jules (Lili Bordan) standing alone at the bar. Sensing his friendís shyness, Sam takes to the bar and offers Jules $40 to get off with Cherry. Despite this insult, and despite sending Sam packing with the contents of his wallet intact, Jules does speak to Cherry that night Ö and the pair hit it off immediately. In fact, they end the night with her writing her telephone number onto his forehead.

The next time they meet, Cherry and Sam spend the night together at his apartment.

Cherry is understandably elated to be dating such a gorgeous woman. He is, after all, a little geeky in comparison Ė all beard, toothy smile and chequered shirts. But Sam is quick to start being negative about Cherryís relationship. He warns his mate not to get too close to such a beautiful filly, and then displays open umbrage towards her when they double-date.

When Jules finally gets a moment alone with Sam in a bar while Cherry takes a piss, she seizes the opportunity to reason with him. "Youíre going to make him happy?" Sam asks. "Iíve never had any complaints yet" she retorts.

But then the real problems begin. Jules loses her job and Cherry persuades a reluctant Sam to hire her as a good-time girl at the nightclub where he works. By his own admission, sexist Sam doesnít want to end up in a position where Jules throws herself at him Ė heís very honest with Cherry about that.

But thatís exactly what happens, in time. After theyíve shagged, Jules moans to Sam "Iím a rotten person". "The worldís full of Ďem" he sighs. And yet neither of them wishes to bring harm to the thoroughly decent Cherry. Unfortunately thatís not enough to stop the pair of them falling in love with each other.

As with all love triangles in the cinema, this deceit cannot lead to good things. Julesí lies to Cherry convince him heís experiencing the real thing, and he confides in Sam that heís thinking of proposing to her. This in itself leads to a turn of events which bring the film tumbling into decidedly darker territory during its second half.

CHERRY is an odd film. It starts off feeling reminiscent of a cut-rate SWINGERS, Valentin adopting the wise-cracking Vince Vaughan character in a small bar which offers little compensation for not being Las Vegas. The dialogue then gets more explicit and we feel like weíve suddenly been transported into an early Kevin Smith film, complete with graphic anecdotes harking back to excruciating sexual encounters. Be it SWINGERS, CLERKS or even SINGLES (the alt-pop soundtrack; the slacker fashions and loose conversational dramatics): CHERRY plays like a pitch-perfect throwback to the lo-fi American indie cinema efforts of the early 90s for its first half.

Itís this section of the film that holds the interest the most, building the three central characters through believable treatment of familiar dynamics and surprising the audience by choosing to follow convincing reactions to situations rather than the ones we normally see in films.

Initially, it does seem as though director Quinn Saunders and his co-screenwriter Crane have compromised their position badly by making "damaged goods" Jules the villain of the piece. Especially as Cherry comes across as so Ďniceí he should be playing the lead in his local Pantomime. But as the action escalates and the plotís minor twists come into play, it becomes more apparent that no-one here is a saint Ė and no-one is particularly bad either. The characters are too well-developed and the pace too considered to allow for such obvious dramatic markings.

The filmís major drawback is its dialogue which is often pretentious in its philosophising over the shallowness of living in LA. "Everyone wants someone else", "just because you know better than other people doesnít mean youíre no worse" Ö argh, there is some horribly portentous shit to wade through here.

But do if you can. CHERRY is a refreshing take on the age-old love triangle theme, taking in deception and revenge along the way, while pausing to muse over the quagmire of casuality, the nothingness of the material world (at its most literal moment, the film takes time to adopt a FIGHT CLUB-type diatribe against the likes of Starbucks) and matters of power and control.

Nicely shot with good lighting and spacious compositions, CHERRY has a distinctive feel and look to it. Itís a good character piece, an intriguing situational drama and a slow-burning thriller which does get going during its final act.

If thereís a reservation, itís not one that brings the film directly to fault. I just wonder who the film is pitched at. Itís not an erotic thriller despite the packaging - it begins with a comment about male-female anal sex, and within minutes the conversation between Cherry and Sam has diverted into an anecdote about a passer-by who once got the better of a bully by "fucking him up the ass". But the sex itself during the film is never graphic Ė the most violent sexual act in the film occurs off-screen, in fact. And the thrills donít really come until a point where anyone who bought into this looking for them will have most likely tuned out.

This is more a sociological study, best summed up by a couple of lines from Jules in the closing scene about how perceptions of people differ from person to person (I canít reprint them: itíd be too much of a spoiler).

Whether CHERRY satisfies on a cerebral level as it intends to, Iím unsure. Itís a good film, certainly, but itís debatable how much entertainment people will derive from its sombre, soul-searching dramatics.

Maybe the true highlight of the film is how fantastic Bordanís arse looks in a thong. Wow.

CHERRY is presented uncut here in 2.35:1, and is enhanced for 16x9 television sets. The picture is a decent one, offering warm colours and solid contrast.

English 2.0 audio is also reliable throughout.

MVD Visualís region free DVD opens to a static main menu page. From there, a static scene-selection menu allows access to CHERRY via 24 chapters.

The only extra on offer is a 2-minute original trailer which emphasises the filmís critique on the superficiality of Los Angeles, while hinting at perhaps a greater quotient of graphic sex than the movie serves.

CHERRY (or CHERRY.) is a decent low budget social drama that dares to eschew typical exploitation content in favour of insightful observations on the need for an identity in an overpopulated world. It doesnít always work, but itís got its moments.

Review by Stuart Willis


 
Released by MVD Visual
Region 1
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review
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