Considering how big of a problem they are, it's not that rare that you get a film dealing with either drug addiction which starts with opioids, or one where an army veteran suffers from PTSD. Sometimes you might get those all in one, such is the case with director duo Anthony Russo and Joe Russo's Cherry, an adaptation of Nico Walker's critically applauded book carrying the same name. Seemingly pulling from the author's own life as a veteran and criminal history as a bank robber, the film circles around the character ''Cherry'' (Tom Holland) who eventually falls to a path of drug abuse and bank robberies after returning from his military service, former habit which he shares with his wife Emily (Ciara Bravo). Whereas the film starts to click into place during the second half when creative choices are simpler, the decision to cover so much ground makes the overall exploration rather messy and drawn-out.
It wouldn't perhaps be much of a surprise if a lot of people end up listing the movie as one of the worst of the year because they simply couldn't get past the first hour. However if you endure through it, you begin to receive some payoff for your time and effort after that because mainly Holland's character really turns out to be fully realised. The full picture of Cherry's shortage of purpose in life, pain caused by horrors during his time in the military and lacking stability when coming back serves the journey that he is on in this film. Holland is really carrying everything uphill on his shoulders the first couple of chapters but even he finds another gear when Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg's script gets rid of distractions and focuses on the repercussions of drug abuse and addiction.
Distractions in the beginning are more or less an amalgamation of few different components, really taking you out of the story at crucial moments. Narration is something that is often considered a distraction, however this time it genuinely is patching up sinkholes that its storytelling is full of. Structurally Cherry becomes irregular and unapproachable to a depressing extent; the first chapter is conveyed to be a dreamscape, the war parts remind you of Russo's superhero action, crime parts are hyper-stylised and only then you find a personal addiction drama where character development finally happens. You're flying high on that but then the ending falters since recasting Cherry and Emily would've been much wiser as Holland and Bravo are way too young for the time jump that the film commits. So many parts just don't work so you contemplate how much you would've cut from the 140 minutes of runtime.
Smileys: Characterisation, Tom Holland
Frowneys: Structure, tone, runtime
Look, I'm just glad they found use for the digitally removed moustache that Henry Cavill had in 'Justice League', didn't just expect them to land on Tom Holland's babyface.