After their multibillion-dollar success “Avengers: Endgame,” the Russo brothers are distancing themselves from big-budget cinema. Your book adaptation CHERRY – THE END OF ALL INNOCENCE Although it has star power, as a biographical war and drug drama it is far from Marvel bombast. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Cherry (USA 2021)
The plot summary
Cherry (Tom Holland) loves his Emily (Ciara Bravo). It is the great romance between two young adults, but it is put on hold when she tells him that she wants to study hundreds of kilometers away from him. Frustrated, the young man joins the Army and is soon part of the medical groups in the Iraq War. Many months later: Cherry returns home. The time at the front left its mark. Cherry tries to forget and takes refuge in drug addiction. His Emily, with whom he is together again, follows him. When money for heroin and pills runs out, Cherry takes the next radical step in this downward spiral and starts robbing banks. And for the ex-soldier it seems increasingly unlikely that he will ever get back on his feet in his life…
The fact that the Russo brothers Anthony and Joe began their directing careers as directors of comedy series such as “Community” or “Arrested Development” is often overlooked in view of their recent successes. After all, the Ohio-born directors are responsible for what is to date the most successful film of all time and, before “Avengers: Endgame,” they have directed three other multimillion-dollar blockbusters for the Marvel universe. This makes her appearance all the more self-confident, filming “Cherry – The End of All Innocence,” a bestseller about drug addiction and war trauma that was very successful in the USA but at the same time highly controversial; That’s not necessarily the stuff the next box office hit is made of. Although the casting of the main character Cherry by “Spider-Man” Tom Holland and the involvement of the Russo brothers can in themselves have a certain advertising effect. Still, “Cherry” was never intended to be released in theaters; In September 2020, after “Greyhound – Battle of the Atlantic”, “Snow Blind” with Jake Gyllenhaal and the Will Smith project “Emancipation”, Apple TV+ now also grabbed the rights to “Cherry” – and put down 40 million US dollars for it. dollars on the table. Through this deal alone, the film has already recouped its estimated production costs of between $30 and $40 million. It’s hard to say whether he would have succeeded in doing this in the cinema (especially given the current Corona situation). However, “Cherry” did not become a masterpiece.
When Cherry (Tom Holland) is dumped by his girlfriend Emily (Ciara Bravo), he joins the army.
The rating “rock solid” does “Cherry – The End of All Innocence” complete justice in equal parts and yet still grossly understates it. The biggest problem with the war drama, which has a generous running time of 142 minutes, is its over-ambition, which means that the film’s strengths and weaknesses are balanced overall, but when “Cherry” plays to its strengths, it sometimes leads to extremely remarkable individual scenes. The screenwriters Angela Russo-Otsot (“V: The Visitors”) and Jessica Goldberg (“Parenthood”) are structurally based on the six chapters of the novel written by Nico Walker, which became a scandal bestseller due to its radical depictions of the everyday lives of war veterans and drug junkies. Although not every chapter can be reduced to a single focus (with the exception of the section that deals solely with the time at the front), one still gets the feeling that as many chapters as “Cherry” has, it has so many topics He also; Although as the film progresses these become increasingly difficult to separate from each other and gradually become a huge jumble of different problems. And so “Cherry – The End of All Innocence” is almost equally a film about war and drug abuse, but also has some heist elements, has strong romantic influences and even becomes a (rudimentary) prison film in the home stretch.
“‘Cherry – The End of All Innocence’ is a film about war and drug abuse in equal parts, but also has some heist elements, has strong romantic influences and even becomes a (rudimentary) prison film in the home stretch.”
At just under two and a half hours, “Cherry” is not the shortest film anyway; And yet one has the feeling that even these 142 minutes were not enough for this range of content. So the Russo brothers set an extremely high pace from the start. This ensures that the story remains pleasantly entertaining until the end despite its severity and length, but it also leaves the aftertaste that the makers can only ever deal with the various conflicts superficially. After his time in the army, Cherry’s war traumas creeping up on him, which ultimately drive him into drug addiction, are only partially proportionate to what happened to him there. Now one could also interpret these developments in such a way that you don’t even have to have experienced the darkest atrocities at the front to still suffer long-term consequences. But unfortunately the authors do not succeed in making Cherry’s wartime and what followed each other coherently and comprehensibly. There is no impression that his experiences as a soldier actively pushed him into drug abuse – this realization and tantamount accusation of the system were partly responsible for the scandalous status of the novel in the United States. As it is, the only evidence of Cherry’s actual torment remains a few voice-over quotes (“We had to put his intestines back in his stomach!”) and pictures (e.g. of the failed suicide of a fellow soldier). It was as if there was no room for more.
At the front: Cherry calls home.
Most of the screen time is spent on the descriptions of the drug hell. And even if “Cherry – The End of All Innocence” is nowhere near as radical and taboo-breaking as films like “Trainspotting” or “Requiem for a Dream” were several decades ago, despite its FSK rating for ages 18 and up (!) This part is by far the most grueling. It’s not even the pictures themselves; Cameraman Newton Thomas Sigel (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) Even in the most unpleasant moments, he relies on a cinematic, high-gloss look with lots of slow motion and detailed shots – of the slowly decaying junkie bodies, of the syringes in the veins and the dirty apartment in which Cherry, his girlfriend and their dog live. Instead, it is the interaction between the two main characters that, with the increasing severity of their addiction, develops from loving and tender to dependent on each other due to the drugs themselves. The (toxic) romantic storyline and the one about drug addiction go hand in hand in “Cherry – The End of All Innocence”. The Heist inserts also develop from this, but then they clearly stand on their own. Especially since the Russos Cherries capture his drug addiction-funding bank robberies with a surprising amount of verve; The bank robber, who has been pumped full of heroin and many other intoxicants, can sometimes barely stand on his feet. But the constant tonal changes – sometimes rebellious and enthusiastic, sometimes devastatingly realistic and then again dynamic and happy – could hardly reflect the (drug) intoxication in Cherry’s existence better. Together with his addiction, the young man quickly becomes an unpredictable protagonist.
“Even though “Cherry – The End of All Innocence” is nowhere near as radical and taboo-breaking, despite its 18+ age rating (!), as films like “Trainspotting” or “Requiem for a Dream” were several decades ago “This part is by far the most grueling.”
Someone who has found an outstanding mime in Tom Holland. His youthful appearance is in stark contrast to Cherry’s stoic, empty look and his movements, which become increasingly cumbersome over time. Above all, Holland is able to counteract the awkwardness of his character – for example during the bank robberies – with a suitable touch of humor, while in the dramatic scenes he uninhibitedly plays everyone around him to the wall. Holland adapts excellently to the tonal fluctuations of the film and holds the core of the sometimes contradictory production together. And even if the dimensions of “Cherry” can sometimes overwhelm you, Holland helps the story achieve the greatest possible intimacy.
Conclusion: The Russo brothers start talking again. This time through the courage not to direct another superhero blockbuster after the “Avengers” films, but also through the fact that they told the essentially small story in a much more expansive way than necessary. As a result, the film adaptation of the bestseller “Cherry” does not fully do justice to the depth of the issues it addresses. Nevertheless, an outstanding Tom Holland and a tonally appealing production enhance the film in the long term.
“Cherry – The End of All Innocence” is now available to stream on Apple TV+.