Inside Out 2012: ‘Cherry’ gratuitously indulges on the license of its premise

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Cherry
Directed by Stephen Elliott
Written by Stephen Elliott and Lorelei Lee
USA, 2012

For adult entertainers working in the San Fernando Valley, a transition into the business of tinsel town has proven to be fruitless. For an industry that doesn’t require much acting, and even less writing, porn stars, like Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience, flounder when they’re required to perform outside of their hitherto untouched skill sets. So it’s no surprise that when X-rated actress Lorelei Lee decided to co-write the film Cherry with writer-director Stephen Elliott, the result is nearly pornographic.

The film follows Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw), a young, cash-strapped woman who leaves her abusive mother (Lili Taylor) and runs off to the confines of San Francisco with her best friend Andrew (Dev Patel).

While working as a waitress at a lap-dancing bar, she hooks up with a lawyer named Frances (James Franco), as well as signing on with an adult film company run by a lesbian director, Margaret (Heather Graham).

For a film about such adult material, the inception is exceptionally juvenile. With characters and relationships predicated on impossibilities and fanciful notions, the central conceit of the film feels unfathomable, with the bulk of the duration functioning as an exercise in reductio ad absurdum.

For example, Angelina’s best friend, Andrew, is straight. However, and knowing this, she treats him like a gay friend (like allowing him to sleep in the same bed with her), while never expecting his feelings towards her to transcend platonic. The feasibility of Andrew not developing any carnal sentiments towards Angelina is nil (she’s gorgeous, he’s straight), but the film fails to acknowledge conventional wisdom – a transgression that repeatedly recurs.

Furthermore, the moral of the story is incredibly vapid, amounting to a superficial resolution to real world problems. Without spoiling the plot, Angelina eventually succeeds in the adult industry, under the titular nom de plume Cherry, and as a result, her life problems magically disappear. So what, pray tell, would the film amount to if Angelina wasn’t a stunning blonde with an immaculate body?

Worst of all, the film gratuitously indulges on the license of its premise, with licentious, albeit beautifully shot, imagery. But with such poor and libidinously wishful writing, Cherry feels more like high budget porn than low budget cinema.

– Justin Li

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3 Comments
  1. crash palace says

    I saw the film last night, and I side with Justin on this — in ABOUT CHERRY, it’s obvious that Andrew is infatuated with Angelina, and they’re sharing a room and a BED in a small apartment, with the very attractive young woman wearing rather skimpy underwear and spooning with her friend nearly every night. Exactly how the poor guy could do that for very long without going insane is unfathomable. It’s also a silly and one dimensional film that wastes a really good cast; when Heather Graham gives the film’s best performance, you know something’s wrong.

  2. Brian says

    “The feasibility of Andrew not developing any carnal sentiments towards Angelina is nil (she’s gorgeous, he’s straight), but the film fails to acknowledge conventional wisdom – a transgression that repeatedly recurs.”

    WRONG.

    Just because a girl is attractive doesn’t mean EVERY SINGLE STRAIGHT GUY who knows her will fall in love with her or develop a crush on her.

    She doesn’t treat him like a GAY friend – she treats him like a PLATONIC friend.

    NEWSFLASH: Lost of straight people have close friendships with someone of the opposite sex.

    One of my best friends since childhood is female and even though she’s very pretty, we’re more like brother and sister. When my girlfriend met her she felt like she was meeting my sister and was even nervous about making a good impression on her.

    This review sounds like it was written by a geeky 12-year-old boy. LOL

    I refuse to believe a grown man would write something this dumb.

    1. Justin Li says

      I usually don’t reply to comments but I felt like I had to for this one.

      Yes, I agree with you that “Just because a girl is attractive doesn’t mean EVERY SINGLE STRAIGHT GUY who knows her will fall in love with her or develop a crush on her.”

      But this isn’t the only thing that happens in the movie. If I recall correctly (as I haven’t seen it since May, when it was still just called ‘Cherry’), Hinshaw’s character, while wearing lingerie, lets Patel’s character sleep in the same bed with her. More than that, she lets him spoon her. How could a straight guy NOT develop any carnal sentiments? Moreover, how can any clear-thinking woman NOT expect him to? It would be too awkward; it would breach too many boundaries. That’s what I meant by conventional wisdom.

      To make my point, let me posit a hypothetical to you. Let’s say your attractive lady friend allowed you to sleep in the same bed with her. Let’s say she slept in her negligee, and while sleeping, she let you spoon her. In that hypothetical, would you honestly say, in that moment, that you wouldn’t develop the tiniest bit of lust towards her? Is this any way to treat a ‘platonic’ friend?

      We both know what the real answers are, but if you say that you wouldn’t and that it is, then, well, who’s the real naïve one?

      I admit that I don’t know anything about your situation with that female friend of yours, but I can pretty much guarantee that she wouldn’t let that happen and never has, probably because she has that aforementioned ‘conventional wisdom’. And if you had any, you wouldn’t allow it to happen either (unless, of course, you WANTED to get laid).

      P.S. The film is written like a porno and has no grasp on real-world relationships, this example aside. At the screening I was at (Toronto’s LGBT film fest), the lesbians in the audience literally laughed out loud at the movies flippant portrayal of a homosexual relationship. It’s the movie that sounds like it was written by geeky 12-year-old boys. I refuse to believe a grown man and woman would write something this dumb.

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