The burden of an actor playing a super popular character in a franchise worth billions of dollars, is that nobody likes to watch them in anything else. That was probably what happened in the case of Tom Holland in Cherry, a semi-biographical account of an American war veteran who eventually becomes a criminal to sustain his drug addiction. It is based on Nico Walker’s best-selling book of the same name.
Cherry has been directed by the Russo Brothers, who are best known for making the Captain America films as well as Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Divided in various parts to signify the different stages of Cherry’s life, the film sees Tom Holland stretching his range. He has to play a vulnerable college student in love, a traumatised soldier and a helpless drug addict. In a way, it is like watching a show or different films altogether.
Cherry was supposed to be a smash hit, with Holland receiving support from his loyal fanbase, as well as his influential MCU friends. However, it turns out that critics don’t like the film so much. At all, actually. A lot of critics have pointed out that the film feels a smidge too long, and hems and haws through the story. The critical ratings have been unprecedentedly low, even though the general public seems to like it. That, however, can be attributed to the star power of Holland as well as Russos.
Say what you like but the one thing that we can all acknowledge is that Holland has given a particularly good performance in Cherry. Of course, there are a lot of people who are having a hard time envisioning Holland as a soldier and a bank robber. There are times in the film that it does feel awkward to see him in the role. In particular there is a sequence where we see the character age a few yearsand the directors make him wear a mustache. That is probably the most off-putting part of the film, which is riddled with blood, vomit and gore.
However, Holland’s intention is pure and his efforts are sincere. He is a young actor in Hollywood, surrounded by contemporaries with a varied resume. He is a star, but his Spider-Man act has overshadowed most of his other roles. He is probably really enthusiastic to be taken seriously in the industry as an actor with range.
In this role, Holland has given his all and it shows. He particularly shines in the war scenes and is believable as the hurt and terrified young soldier who is reeling from all the deaths around him.
But the fact still remains that people still see him as the 15 year old webslinger from the MCU films. Watching him behave like an adult, let alone a delinquent, is uncomfortable for most. But we have to understand that it is by no way a fault of the actor. Holland definitely deserves some appreciation for taking a difficult role and committing to it.
In a way it is the treatment of the film that betrays Holland’s act. From cynical monologues to fourth wall breaks, it feels like every trick in the book is used, even when it’s not necessary. The quest for a knee-jerk reaction from the audience is so extreme, it leaves you exhausted.
Cherry is a misfire, an unfortunate one. It is important to talk about the banality of war, the lives that were lost on both sides for no reason, the civillians caught in ceasefire. Only if Cherry would play up to its strength more.