Popcorn Picks: “Cherry” uses a beloved actor to raise awareness on drug addiction, PTSD


Photo credit/ Autumn Bohner

In this film 24-year-old, Tom Holland leaves behind his family-friendly image to portray a man in the spiral of addiction.

Ellen Frantz, News Editor

This past year has been rough for movies. With most theaters closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, streaming services snatched up every big movie with award potential. AppleTV’s pick was “Cherry”.

Based on the partially-true novel by Nico Walker, “Cherry” follows the story of a young, unnamed man who joins the U.S. Army in 2005 as a medic. He then returns home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and turns to opioids to cope. When he eventually runs out of money, he then robs banks to feed his addictions.

The film stars 24-year-old British actor Tom Holland as the main character. Holland, who is best known for playing family-friendly roles such as Spider-Man, is completely unrecognizable in this role. Holland, who is considered a “heart-throb” to many young girls, shaved his head and lost 30lbs in preparation for this role. He also wore special effects makeup to look like he had a heroin addiction. And let me tell you, it works.

As a fan of Holland, I completely forgot who I was watching while viewing this movie. He was completely unrecognizable as he threw himself into this role. Holland said in multiple interviews that while filming the movie on location in Cleveland, he visited recovering addicts at a veterans hospital to learn their stories and add those kinds of feelings into his performance. I believe this extensive background research helped him pull off one of the best performances that I have ever seen.

Starring opposite Holland is Ciara Bravo as his character’s wife, Emily. Bravo is known as the little sister, Katie, on the Nickelodeon series “Big Time Rush”. However, after this film, she has redefined herself as an actress and has officially left behind her child star days. Bravo shines as a woman with so much potential who throws it all away as she follows her husband on the path towards drugs. Her performance is sweet, but upsetting, which is tough to do, and she did it exceptionally well.

The film is directed by Cleveland natives the Russo Brothers, who are best known for their work in the Marvel Universe on films such as “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame”. The story is so personal to them since it takes place in their hometown, and you can tell throughout the film how much they love this city as they focus on the neighborhoods and the ambiance of the area.

The film is split into seven different chapters, each following a new aspect of the main character’s life. The Russo Brothers were very creative during this film. They changed the color pallet or the aspect ratio every time a new part of the character’s life came around. One of the most visually-interesting scenes for me was the Basic Training scene. During this scene, the offensive nicknames the drill sergeant called the main character would come on the screen in big red letters.

Other great visual scenes are when the characters would be high on drugs. During these scenes, everything would either be fuzzy or doubled.

The film is dark and full of dark humor, but the performances are what moved the film along and stuck out in my mind. The Russo Brothers said they chose Holland, one of the most beloved young and innocent actors in Hollywood, to play the lead so you would want to root for him. Despite knowing deep down that what he is doing is wrong. I cannot see the film winning many awards, but I wholeheartedly believe that Holland and Bravo deserve a great deal of recognition for their performances. They are the future of acting.

Rating: 4/5 kernels

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Twitter: @EllenFrantzTWW