CHERRY (2021)

Directed by: Joe Russo & Anthony Russo 
Written By: Jessica Goldenberg & Angela Russo-Otstot 
Based On The Novel By: Nico Walker 
Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Editor: Jeff Groth

Cast: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Forrest Goodluck, Jeff Wahlberg, Michael Rispoli, Michael Gandolfini, Damon Wayans Jr. Kelli Burland, Daniel R. Hill, Pooch Hall, Thomas Lennon

Cherry drifts from college dropout to army medic in Iraq – anchored only by his true love, Emily. But after returning from the war with PTSD, his life spirals into drugs and crime as he struggles to find his place in the world.


It might be that one really wanted this film to succeed. As it is the first film for the Russo brothers directing after THE AVENGERS  movies and a starring role for Tom Holland in a more dramatic role. Not to mention actress Ciara Bravo in a leading female role after the streaming Series WAYNE was unfortunately canceled before it’s time and she was so good on it. That the film’s problems might’ve taken a little more personal. 

While I never read the book. I know it was critically acclaimed and had its fair share of fans. 

This is a clear case of style over substance. As the film gives us a story adapted from the book of the same name.

Though throughout the film flirts with so many different genres a mind types that it never has time to settle into any of them flirting but never quite sealing the deal. As they are just escapades that help us get to the next part of the story.

The film mainly revolves around two characters and at heart is a love story of two people trying to find themselves in one another. While dealing with constant mistakes that seem to get bigger whenever trying to solve the last problem.

It is also a drug addiction story. While the two leads are capable Tom Holland and Ciara bravo they look so young which might be the age of the characters, but they look Ike they are playing dress-up half the time. Especially as their characters get older and for Tom Holland especially the later scenes where he grows a mustache Looks more like make-up than a naturally grown character. Though Ciara bravo tries very hard with her character. Her more adult scenes just never hit home. As she is a good actress.

When it comes to the direction of the film. It is overly stylized which can be appreciated when done with just enough panache. The problem here though is that the story never quite earns it so it usually feels over the top. Though it does give the film an operatic presentation. It feels overdone and at times like it is taking suggestions from other films but is never quite as sharp as those other films. So that even in some scripted scenes that are more comedic it still falls flat.

Even as it tries to base itself on the book and present each new time period in their lives as a new or different chapter. Trying to elevate the material higher.

Even the bank robbery scene has no flair. We get that they are trying to show it’s not like the movies are glamorous or necessarily well thought out, but they just feel lifeless. As the film goes on everything feels familiar but the film keeps trying to present it in a different way that ends up going overboard and not actually adding anything to the overall experience or film. Be

The film seems to go out of its way to show that life isn’t fair as the good moral characters have a way of always having hardships or dying. While the characters who showcase bad moral behavior sometimes are punished but at other times seem to succeed or at least survive. At least In our time with them.

One of the problems is that throughout the movie the scenes feel melodramatic and examples of emotional beats you have seen done bigger and better and more deserved in Other films. Making the film again feel like it is more trying to be like films of this type instead of just being itself. It’s let’s put on a show rather than let’s stay true and tell a story.

It’s not a bad film but like the main character, it feels full of ambition but never quite makes it to where it wants to go or wants to be. Though it is a nice try. It ends up feeling like it is trying to show off to prove it belongs and in doing so showcases why it doesn’t.

It might be that the film feels more like a dramatic graphic novel with its style and with the filmmakers behind it. It just feels like a movie of moments that might have been handled better emotionally,  gritty and dramatic rather than grand and so visual and surreal. 

There is a plan here it just doesn’t match the story or material 

It’s an interesting try that in the end doesn’t quite stick to the landing. By the end, you have a film that will keep your interest but you might not have anything to really grab onto to remember or even truly feel.

Grade: C

ROUNDERS (1998)

Directed By: John Dahl 
Written By: Brian Koppelman & David Levien 
Cinematography By: Jean-Yves Escoffier 
Editor: Scott Chesnut 

Cast: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Martin Landau, Gretchen Mol, John Malkovich, John Turturro, Michael Rispoli, Famke Janssen, Josh Mostel, Melina Kanakaredes, Lenny Clarke 

A young man is a reformed gambler who must return to playing big stakes poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks


The Film takes you into the backroom parlors and other places around the city where gambling and illegal gaming is going on.

The film puts you in the right atmosphere of a certain kind of elegance and well as an underground network of con men and illegal activities. Which the film tries to come off as cool and slick, but comes off as stiff. The confines though feel illustrious and classic. Like age-old traditions which help give the film a richness. All the scenes seem to filtered with deep dark reds.

By all means, considering the talent involved in the film, this should be a better film. The way the film plays, it acts like it’s a better film then what it is. While it has a pedigree, the film hasn’t earned that right yet.

While it has it’s share of surprises the story feels fairly predictable. The thing that keeps you watching is wondering when and how what you know is going to happen.

Though he is good Edward Norton seems to be coasting through this film. While Matt Damon seems to be taking it seriously while that works for him. It’s not too much of a stretch. While Norton seems to be trying to create a character with very few details. But seems to be going for classic gritty scumbag.
The film at least gives him an important decision to make but either way it is looking up for him whichever decision he makes. only one is more dangerous and uncertain. While the other he is good at but has no passion for.

At the time Hollywood’s it girl Gretchen Mol has what passes for a female leading role, though in the end, it comes off as a typical girlfriend role. There isn’t a real character there just a point in the script to give the lead something to be working toward and pulling him in one direction while the other direction entices him.

It’s fun to see John Malkovich hamming it up in his role. Where he gets to be a character and a heavy. While also getting to be funny

The film seems to have an attitude like it’s supposed to be or going to be a classic New York tale, yet comes off as mediocre and a story that feels familiar that is not necessarily better but isn’t worse than how we have seen it before.

It’s entertaining and a disappointment only because you go in thinking about the possibilities that it never achieves. One of the problems in this film is that we understand the bonds of friendship, but these guys are hustlers and poker players a game of not only skill but smarts. Now he realizes his friend is a screw-up which almost anyone except for him can see. So that when a betrayal does eventually happen He is so shocked. Yet expects loyalty even though they are not family.

I know I am hard on this film, it’s not a bad film. Maybe it’s just the fact I have seen so many films this one does little to distinguish itself. It’s a good film that is enjoyable yet there is nothing too special about it. I remember seeing this in theaters on opening night with a small audience. I expected a bigger more appreciative crowd. Yet the theater was nearly empty. The film is entertaining and as long as you don’t expect much it’s good. It’s just watching it and thinking of how much better it could hurt a little. It does set an intoxicating mood with it’s elements. Giving it a feeling of warmness in treacherous times.

GRADE: B