"“Cliched and hackneyed, Cherry follows so many conventions of the genre...”"
It's certainly difficult not to feel somewhat dubious about Stephen Elliott's directorial debut Cherry, given the credentials of the cast compared to the limited release this picture is being granted here in the UK. Regrettably, any such apprehensions soon become a reality, in what proves to be a lacklustre and dispassionate drama – despite the authenticity that comes within a script co-written by porn industry veteran Lorelei Lee.
When the impressionable youngster Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) decides to move to San Francisco with her close friend Andrew (Dev Patel) – to help raise funds to pay her rent, she takes a bar job at a local strip joint, where she meets lawyer Frances (James Franco). As she develops a cocaine habit with her new acquaintance, she finds herself spiralling into the seedy world of pornography, as she starts nude modelling. However before she knows it she has made a name for herself as a fully fledged adult entertainer, as she becomes affectionately known as 'Cherry'.
One of the main reasons the viewer struggles to become emotionally invested in this story, is given the swift, rash decision Angelina makes when deciding to get involved in the porn industry. We don't truly get a sense as to why she has decided to take the plunge, as one moment she is adamant she wants nothing to do with it all, and then suddenly, she just decides to go for it, with little rhyme nor reason why. These set of events have been similarly covered of late in Lovelace starring Amanda Seyfried, yet that had the added depth that comes with a sub-plot consisting of domestic violence. Or even in Starlet, for example – which follows a relatively similar premise, which has an intriguing aspect whereby our lead befriends an elderly woman. In Cherry, however, very little lies beneath the surface.
Hinshaw turns in a more than respectable performance as our lead, as she portrays that intrinsic naivety well, as her anxiety comes across effectively on screen. She has a natural charisma too, which is vital as we need to believe just why people are making such a fuss over her. There aren't any supporting roles of note, though it's intriguing to see Heather Graham – playing filmmaker Margaret – as the role of 'Cherry' appears to owe a lot to Graham's character in Boogie Nights. However, her mere presence in this production comes as an unwanted reminder as to how this differs dramatically from the masterful Paul Thomas Anderson picture.
Cliched and hackneyed, Cherry follows so many conventions of the genre, as a rolling of the eyes simply is the only way to respond to the obvious story-lines such as the tumultuous relationship between Angelina and her troubled mother (Lili Taylor), while Frances' dreams of one day becoming a painter are highly unnecessary. That said, the ending is somewhat surprising – so despite feeling uninspired and underwhelmed at points along the way, it may just worth sitting this one through to the end.