Review: About Cherry
PLOT: A teenager from a broken family moves to San Francisco with her best friend and get mixed up in the pornography business.
REVIEW: Stephen Elliot's ABOUT CHERRY is a pointless melodrama that's not half as deep and meaningful as it thinks it is. It is not surprising to learn that it was written by people who have worked in the porn industry, because only they could find profundity in the film's very standard tale of a young, mixed up girl who finds herself immersed in the adult entertainment business; for the rest of us, this is just an After School Special with boobs and coke.
Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) is an 18-year-old with good looks, a good heart, and traveling a path to nowhere. Her parents are unreliable drunks, her boyfriend is willing to sell her out to a nudie photographer for money, and she has zero prospects. The only small light in her life is her best friend Andrew (Dev Patel), who does what he can to lift her spirits. After the sordid nude photoshoot nets her $500, which she's supposed to share with her boyfriend, she and Andrew split and head to San Francisco on a rather aimless mission to get away from their crummy homes and relations.
Once in San Francisco, it doesn't take long for Angelina to find herself working a strip club as a waitress, which naturally soon transitions to stripper and ultimately leads her in to the unusual world of bondage porn. ABOUT CHERRY is unique in that it shines a light on this kinky fetish and its purveyors, and wouldn't you know it, it turns out that some of these folks aren't so bad. Angelina, now using the stage name Cherry, hooks up with gentle director and former porn star Margaret (Heather Graham), who doesn't seek to exploit the young girl as much as nurture her way through the business. And Cherry isn't very surprised (and neither are we) to find that she takes to the medium like a fish to water.
ABOUT CHERRY is, when all things are considered, about the gentler side of the smut industry. While Cherry encounters a few dark patches, overall her experience isn't overtly negative. It's to note that ABOUT CHERRY steers clear of the degradation and abuse that would be expected in such a film (no BOOGIE NIGHTS-esque violence or misery here), which brings us back around to the fact that, it's almost like a greeting card from the sex peddlers saying, See, there's a nice side to this, too.
But ABOUT CHERRY's biggest problem isn't that it's showing us the silver lining of porn, it's that it's boringly executed and devoid of serious drama. The early section of Angelina/Cherry's is by-the-numbers boozy parents and sad teenager stuff we've witnessed play out in a hundred other movies, while her immersion in the porn business doesn't move us because it's presented so timidly. You take away the nudity in this film and it's airing on Lifetime. A subplot about the Graham character's tenuous relationship with her professional girlfriend (Diane Farr) seems jammed into the film to pad out the running time, and a small supporting turn by James Franco as a coke-addicted lawyer who courts Cherry is just there to give her something to do other than fool around in front of the camera. Franco isn't even really allowed to go overboard; the movie wastes him.
Hinshaw deserves some praise for hanging in there; the attractive actress exudes equal amounts of vulnerability and self-assurance and essentially does what she can with a flimsy role that strangely deprives her of any significant dramatic moments. (This is movie takes place in the porn industry and we can't get one major freak-out scene?) There is likely a strongly effective movie concerning this subject matter with Hinshaw in the lead that could be made, but ABOUT CHERRY isn't that movie.
|Extra Tidbit:||ABOUT CHERRY is currently available on VOD; it hits theaters on SEPTEMBER 21st.|