Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: About Cherry

Mediocre drama centered a young woman’s introduction to the porn industry.

Sept 20, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1363358-About_Cherry_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Eighteen-year-old Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) is trapped in Long Beach, Calif., with an alcoholic mother (Lili Taylor), abusive dad (Stephen Wiig), and a jerk of a boyfriend (Jonny Weston), who coerces her into posing for nude photos. Knowing there’s gotta be something better out there, she takes her BFF Andrew (Dev Patel) and flees to San Francisco. There, life doesn’t get any less sleazy as she finds jobs as a waitress in a lap-dancing emporium and a porn-film company. Margaret (Heather Graham), a director there, induces her to make some movies, beginning with a solo shot, quickly followed by lesbian shenanigans and, finally, that last frontier, on-camera sex with a guy (which here is gravely treated like a novice’s final passage into full nun-hood).

Funnily enough, all this sexploitation isn’t as much of a problem as what’s going on behind the camera. Angelina, who has taken on the newbie-appropriate, professional name of “Cherry,” gets involved in a complex relationship with Francis (James Franco) a wannabe artist turned high-powered lawyer with sudden issues about her line of work. Additionally, Margaret lusts for her, which throws a wrench into her own thing with her girlfriend (Diane Farr, in a traditionally thankless, thoroughly unappetizing, bitter lesbian part).

Director Stephen Elliott and his co-scenarist Lorelei Lee have both toiled as sex workers, and evidently intended this as something of a warm and fuzzy valentine to their profession. Nothing wrong with that—or porn, really—if that’s their true feeling, but unfortunately About Cherry is just about as badly scripted and, ultimately, cheaply exploitative as any two-bit, run-of-the-mill porno. The basic lack of any kind of negative aspect to the profession is unconvincing, as is Angelina’s dramatic arc. One example: She and Andrew have to share a bed in their cramped new SF digs, with her completely oblivious to his unstated love for her. When she discovers him masturbating to one of her videos, she goes off on him so furiously that she merely emerges as the most heartless kind of cock-tease.

Hinshaw is as game as can be under Elliott’s relentlessly probing lens, but ultimately defeated by her character’s complete lack of depth. She’s basically a blank canvas upon which—surprise!—everyone projects their lurid fantasies.  She’s pretty enough in her bland, blonde, generic way, but hardly the stuff universal dreams are made of, like, say, Louise Brooks, who was so understatedly yet spectacularly convincing as the ultimate object of desire in Pandora’s Box. A dissipated-looking Franco merely adds one more puzzling portrait to his ever-burgeoning gallery of indie eccentrics, this one bearing a faintly risible resemblance to his true-life persona as would-be arty Renaissance guy. Graham, who by now is like the Dame Edith Evans of the indie world, is, as ever, competent, but just that in a role which should have been played less like some kind of porno den mother and more flamboyantly for true effect. (Her laughably angry sex scene with Farr will rank as one of 2012’s very worst film moments.)

Patel, whose character probably should have been gay, has literally nothing to do but stare calf-eyed at Hinshaw throughout. As for the ever-edgy Taylor, she must be truly desperate for work to accept such a tiny nothing of a part (although the first sight of her vomiting into a toilet verges on self-parody). 


Film Review: About Cherry

Mediocre drama centered a young woman’s introduction to the porn industry.

Sept 20, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1363358-About_Cherry_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Eighteen-year-old Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) is trapped in Long Beach, Calif., with an alcoholic mother (Lili Taylor), abusive dad (Stephen Wiig), and a jerk of a boyfriend (Jonny Weston), who coerces her into posing for nude photos. Knowing there’s gotta be something better out there, she takes her BFF Andrew (Dev Patel) and flees to San Francisco. There, life doesn’t get any less sleazy as she finds jobs as a waitress in a lap-dancing emporium and a porn-film company. Margaret (Heather Graham), a director there, induces her to make some movies, beginning with a solo shot, quickly followed by lesbian shenanigans and, finally, that last frontier, on-camera sex with a guy (which here is gravely treated like a novice’s final passage into full nun-hood).

Funnily enough, all this sexploitation isn’t as much of a problem as what’s going on behind the camera. Angelina, who has taken on the newbie-appropriate, professional name of “Cherry,” gets involved in a complex relationship with Francis (James Franco) a wannabe artist turned high-powered lawyer with sudden issues about her line of work. Additionally, Margaret lusts for her, which throws a wrench into her own thing with her girlfriend (Diane Farr, in a traditionally thankless, thoroughly unappetizing, bitter lesbian part).

Director Stephen Elliott and his co-scenarist Lorelei Lee have both toiled as sex workers, and evidently intended this as something of a warm and fuzzy valentine to their profession. Nothing wrong with that—or porn, really—if that’s their true feeling, but unfortunately About Cherry is just about as badly scripted and, ultimately, cheaply exploitative as any two-bit, run-of-the-mill porno. The basic lack of any kind of negative aspect to the profession is unconvincing, as is Angelina’s dramatic arc. One example: She and Andrew have to share a bed in their cramped new SF digs, with her completely oblivious to his unstated love for her. When she discovers him masturbating to one of her videos, she goes off on him so furiously that she merely emerges as the most heartless kind of cock-tease.

Hinshaw is as game as can be under Elliott’s relentlessly probing lens, but ultimately defeated by her character’s complete lack of depth. She’s basically a blank canvas upon which—surprise!—everyone projects their lurid fantasies.  She’s pretty enough in her bland, blonde, generic way, but hardly the stuff universal dreams are made of, like, say, Louise Brooks, who was so understatedly yet spectacularly convincing as the ultimate object of desire in Pandora’s Box. A dissipated-looking Franco merely adds one more puzzling portrait to his ever-burgeoning gallery of indie eccentrics, this one bearing a faintly risible resemblance to his true-life persona as would-be arty Renaissance guy. Graham, who by now is like the Dame Edith Evans of the indie world, is, as ever, competent, but just that in a role which should have been played less like some kind of porno den mother and more flamboyantly for true effect. (Her laughably angry sex scene with Farr will rank as one of 2012’s very worst film moments.)

Patel, whose character probably should have been gay, has literally nothing to do but stare calf-eyed at Hinshaw throughout. As for the ever-edgy Taylor, she must be truly desperate for work to accept such a tiny nothing of a part (although the first sight of her vomiting into a toilet verges on self-parody). 
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Love is Strange
Film Review: Love is Strange

Ira Sachs’ sublimely told and beautifully acted contemporary romantic drama about an aging gay Manhattan couple hitting some unexpected choppy waters is the flip side of his dark, raw and daring Keep the Lights On but every bit as engaging. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina add complexity and class to a classy production that should resonate with quality-seeking filmgoers, gay or straight. More »

The Trip to Italy
Film Review: The Trip to Italy

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon work hard to be funny in this ultimate piece of luxuriant fluff requiring a surfeit of viewer indulgence. More »

Dinosaur 13
Film Review: Dinosaur 13

Doc chronicling the sad plight of dedicated paleontologists, academics and scholars as they hunt and preserve a prized dinosaur fossil is no treat for kids enthralled by dinosaurs or Jurassic Park adventures, but another wake-up call about injustices that slip through a porous legal system and sock the powerless. More »

Moebius
Film Review: Moebius

Crazy is as Kim Ki-duk does in this dialogue-free Korean thriller about castration, incest, rape, sadomasochism and much, much more. While Kim has more on his mind than gross-out exploitation, many male viewers will be hard-put to stick around and find out what that might be. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Expendables 3
Film Review: The Expendables 3

Third go-round for the aging mercenaries, this time fighting a ruthless arms dealer. Sylvester Stallone's B-movie formula is wearing thin. More »

The Giver
Film Review: The Giver

Another bleakly perfect future-world, another teen hero who challenges the status quo. Is this long-gestating project too late to the party? More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here