After making four films for Marvel including Avengers: Endgame in five years, brothers Joe and Anthony Russo are returning to more intimate theaters with Cherry. And for their first non-MCU film since 2006, bought by Apple TV+, the two directors gave everything, even too much, to the point of ruining a film with great potential.
A strange sensation enveloped after watching this long-awaited Cherry. It’s hard to put words right away on the more or less (especially sadly) successful experiences of the last descendants of the Russo brothers. On the one hand, it’s hard to leave without the many images at the head of this film’s river of Nico Walker’s character’s descent into hell. It’s also hard to part with the final musical notes of composer Henry Jackman.
Then on the other hand, above all else there is a feeling of failure. The impression that we have just seen a film that missed its mark. The feeling that through this story between heartbreak and disappointment, anger and poetry, realism and fairyland, lurks, somewhere, here or there, depending on some sequences, a great film that failed to hatch. Heartbreak that is almost as tragic as the journey of the character played by Tom Holland.
Adapted from the semi-automatic biographical novel of Nico Walker, Cherry looks back on the life of a young US Army nanny. While the Iraq war will traumatize him, he will fall into a downward spiral upon his return to the country between post-traumatic stress, drugs and bank robberies. A way to tell the complicated and reconstructed story of a teenage boy abandoned by a stubborn America. So there’s a potential dream that the Russo Brothers hit the nail on the head, but never managed to catch it.
Cherry is probably the first film to suffer the consequences of the massive machine in which the Russo brothers have been bathing for five years. As crazy as it sounds, a fine career on the independent circuit opened up for the Russo brothers in the early 2000s. After being spotted by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney for their first film Pieces, the two men headed straight to Cannes for their film. the second feature, the Collinwood Bienvenue, was selected for Director’s Fortnight. And if their third film, You and Me… and Duprée, disappoints, the duo has a future far from blockbuster.
Obviously, no one forced the brothers to start the MCU (after getting past the small screen), but it’s hard not to assume that they were a little frustrated with this collaboration when we found Cherry. If they have the chance to direct the two most important films of the Infinite Saga, they, like all directors who have gone through major franchises, will have to follow very precise specifications. A clear line of behavior compels them to limit themselves, forbidding them to include their own identity in it.
And like it or not, after more than five years of constraint, Cherry is the way for them to break free and not least. At 2:20 (too long), the Apple TV+ drama combines visual ideas, bold staging choices, and we feel that Russo is giving it their all to really prove they have style left after their clean blockbuster. A little too unfortunately. Too much to do well, Anthony and Joe Russo were almost completely destroyed.
It’s so simple, there’s not a single second of Cherry that isn’t over-styled. Between filters, slow motion, zoom, blur, angle-of-view doubling (love of unnecessary zenithal shots, subjective shots of the anus), stills, format changes, outrageous music, and the list goes on. , everything works. And if it works here or there, the feature film above all has an essay appearance done by a film student who wants to show everything he can do with a camera.
The narrative suffers from the same pitfalls. Stuck in a chapter that only features dangerous visual changes, the story juggles between serious voiceover and breaking the 4th wall more unhindered until it finally leaves the whole for a more raw, linear presentation for far too long. De facto, with more focus on updating the format (even unnoticed?) than the characters, the film never lets its protagonist develop in depth.
And that’s what’s most frustrating with Cherry, because we got a feel for how both directors could make such a dramatic little gem. In fact, in the midst of these troublesome technical and narrative choices, some beautiful successes are hidden. Never before had the division of action scenes been so clear and precise on the two men for such a long timeama. Rather, there’s something quite compelling in the sense of seeing two directors mix poetry, lyrics or even fantasy with tragic, violent realism and psychological violence.
The chapter that takes place in Iraq is perhaps one of the most successful (even if not without flaws) because it demonstrates the absurdity of war, without forgetting to develop a message of commitment to the army. The emotions that appear here are also very real, brought about, among others, by the well-used (albeit quick) friendship between Nico and Jimenez and then the explosion scene.
An authentic emotion is still palpable during his return to the country of young America thanks to his romantic relationship with Emily (Ciara Bravo) and heartbreaking psychological stress, but which eventually dissipates due to their sequences and awkwardness.
This is not due to a lack of effort to create it by tackling strong, relevant, and intimate themes. Veterans are left to fend for themselves despite their trauma to the devastating opioid crisis the most vulnerable (a very personal subject for Russo), directors denounce the government’s absence as well as its complicity in the misery of the left. . Undeniably, their intentions are sincere and it’s sad not to see their generosity rewarded (or choose, distraught to see them make so many bad decisions), especially because of Henry Jackman’s music.
Not that the soundtrack composed by the British is inconsistent. Instead, it hides the sublime bits that sometimes tease with the sweetness of Ludovico Einaudi like during the epilogue worn by The Comedown recalls Mommy’s fantasy sequences. No, the problem lies in its misuse. Present almost permanently, destroying or scattering characters, accentuating or sacrificing the potential of certain scenes, depending on the merits or not of their use. In short, like the overall screenwriting, technical choices or aesthetics of the film, it’s perfectly balanced, touchingly genius and unremarkable.
And finally, the only one who’s managed to get away with this disappointing and heartbreaking digression is Tom Holland. Unjustly criticized in Spider-Man’s skin, Tom Holland is the pinnacle of this incredible odyssey and here confirms all his talents, months after The Devil, all the time. With such a complex score and unstable characters to play, the young actor whose career is still on the rise could fall.
Far from it, he managed without difficulty facing this chameleon role. In over 2h20, he goes from a confused young nanny to an addict in crisis, including a young lover and a determined bank robber with confusing naturalness and ease. Without question, this is his most impressive and impactful performance to date. The final precious shot comes more to mark his rugged appearance, his face marked by the physical and psychological journey he has endured.
Like what, failing to pamper or extinguish the potential of some of its collaborators (hello the Russos), Marvel will at least deserve an actor with a promising future. We almost want to say emphatically Uncharted.