Directed by the Russo Brothers, the Tom Holland movie has a lot to unpack from it and throughout this video we’re gonna be going over it’s story, ending and our thoughts on it.
Full spoilers ahead so if you haven’t had a chance to check out the film then I recommend that you check out now.
Cherry Plot Summary
Cherry is somewhat of a twisted love story that centres around addiction and breaking a toxic cycle. The film is actually based on the autobiographical story of the same name by Nico Walker and this documented many of his highs and lows.
Because of the narration and life story element that follows the film I sort of view it as a cross between Forrest Gump and Requiem For A Dream. It’s getting a lot of mixed reviews and one of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen lobbied against it is that Tom Holland is completely miscast as a bank robber.
Personally, I kinda think that’s the point to it and you aren’t really supposed to see this guy as a believable threat. Instead, I took the movie as portraying how even a good kid can end up doing bad things if he’s placed on certain paths with the wrong sorts of people.
Walker stated that the title Cherry refers to the phrase “pop the cherry” and though this is normally used in a way that refers to losing you losing your virginity, the author said it’s meant more to reference a transition in life. Nico goes through several of these transitions and whether it’s him being a student, joining the army or becoming a criminal, at several points in the film a red title screen is used to show how he’s gone from one state to another.
Holland to me gives a great performance and I really respect that he as an actor is taking on challenging roles instead of just sticking to comic book movies…even though he does shoot his web fluid at one pint. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t think the movie has its faults and I did struggle to see what Nico sees in Emily who is pretty much the love of his life.
She’s basically the Jenny in this story and is rather cold, even to the point that when Nico tells her he loves her she just says thank you.
Spooked by this admission she says she wants to go to school in Canada, basically ending their relationship and he decides to enlist in the army. She does eventually admit that she loves him too but by this point, it’s too late to stop him from heading out. Now, this is the first point in the movie where Nico is presented with a choice and rather than making the right one he makes the wrong one.
The Iraq War
Made a medic, Nico is sent to Iraq where he sees first hand that the training he’s received is pretty useless and nothing he does is any help to anyone. I feel like this movie is very anti-army and at one point it even portrays them as just kids playing war games. They even alter the aspect ratio so it feels more like an old school television show rather than something that’s actually happening and because of this, it’s difficult to take the life and death experiences that they’re being trained for seriously.
Nico is clearly rocked by the experience and after the trauma, he faces first hand in the field he develops mental health issues which lead to him seeking out help in America. Prescribed Oxycontin by a character named Dr. Whomever, Nico goes onto harder stuff.
From here he and Emily end up on a downward spiral when both become addicted and they enable one another. They end up being put in charge of guarding a safe which they smash open and after pushing and flushing most of the contents they become indebted to a big dealer named Black.
In order to pay him back and continue their addiction, Nico begins to rob banks and after facing any real resistance he becomes a career criminal.
Cherry Ending Explained
Now the film ends with Nico realising that things are going to get worse and worse as long as he’s with Emily.
At this point getting high isn’t just something that they do, it’s very much a cornerstone of their relationship and when she overdoses her mother asks Nico to leave her alone.
I think it’s at this point that Nico realises that they’re gonna constantly be in this cycle of committing crimes in order to fuel their addictions. This will put the woman that he loves in more danger and thus he has two options, either continue on this path or remove himself from the situation.
He tries to put Emily on a bus but she refuses and this cements to him that as long as the pair have their addictions, the relationship will continue to be toxic.
Though he loves her more than anything I think Nico realises that he’s not someone who’s responsible enough to control his actions and that he and Emily will always end up back together unless he forces a way for them to be apart until they get clean.
Nico says goodbye to Emily and heads to a bank to commit his final robbery which is where he tells the teller to sound the alarm. He heads out and hands the last of the money that he owes to black and fires a gun in the middle of the street to draw attention to himself. After injecting for the last time he waits for the police to arrive and is sent to prison.
Now, this is actually how the book itself ends. The real Nico wrote it in prison and therefore didn’t really get to add the events we see out to the page. The author was freed in 2019 just in time to see his movie released but the way that the film culminates is somewhat of an epilogue.
After serving his time and growing a moustache Nico leaves prison, fiddling with his wedding ring in a move that is similar to what we saw in Iraq with a soldier trying to get the blood to come out of his wedding ring. Similar to that soldier, Nico was away from the one that he loved and he viewed the ring very much as a symbol of their bond even though they were apart. This is something that kept him going through his time in prison and the character was clearly desperate to see Emily again.
Emily going to Canada and Iraq were both things that kept him apart from her and it allowed the pair to figure out what they wanted but the trauma he faced eventually led to more. Prison, on the other hand, allows him to get sober and being away from Emily it also enables her to do the same thing. Nico becomes somewhat of a star prisoner and after severing several years to the point that Tom Holland actually goes through puberty, he’s released on parole.
My bad Tom you know I love you.
The film ends with both the pair free of their addiction with Nico’s focus on Emily rather than things like trauma and addiction. We cut to the title against the red background that shows another transition in life and the film ends.
Who Shot Coke?
Now one of the big questions is who shot Coke. The character ends up fleeing during the middle of a robbery and when we next see him he’s been shot. I have watched the scene several times to figure out exactly how this happened and there are two moments in which I think this may have happened. Upon fleeing the bank with Nico, we can hear what sounds like gunshots and at no point during this is Nico ever fired at. When they’re in the car, Nico also says he hears something which because of the cut in the scene is likely a gunshot and due to the police driving off at this moment I believe it could have happened during this. It’s difficult to tell exactly at what moment this was but those two are probably the most likely.
Cherry Movie Review
Ok, so what did I think of the movie?
Well as mentioned it’s getting very mixed reviews and I think I sort of fall in the middle of that. I don’t think this is absolutely terrible like some people are saying but I also think that it has a lot of moments in it that stop it from really being something good.
In Iraq, I felt like the movie’s pacing severely suffered and because of the budget, it was difficult to believe that they were actually in any combat situations because you can see the limitations of the film. The pacing was completely off at this point and I thought it was really difficult to fully connect with the characters in the absence of Emily who is very much the sort of person that Cherry focuses around. Now why I say that is because though Nico is the main character, all of his actions and what he does tend to be in service of her. Therefore when she’s removed it’s difficult to stay engaged with the story as we know that he will have to return to her before any more major developments occur.
They could’ve cut about 20 minutes out of the film without losing anything and I feel this plodding does bog the film down a bit. Now though it is a necessary examination at PTSD it also makes it feel slightly bloated. I know that sounds super disrespectful to people who suffer from it but just as a piece of film I felt that those pieces derailed the film a bit.
Now it is very stylish in its direction and the Russo Brothers were clearly trying to make something memorable. However, they do go a bit over the top such as the butthole shot and a lot of the time it feels like it’s mimicking other movies but to less degrees of success.
I kinda got a lot of Goodfellas vibes from it too but whereas the characters in that had a dark comedic side to them, Cherry feels super depressing and bleak so it’s difficult to really feel like it isn’t exhausting at times.
I’m guessing that they are gonna push for Oscar’s with this and whether you think it deserves it or not likely depends on whether you think Holland is right for the role. Personally, I liked him but I would’ve liked to have seen more streamlining going on in the film in order to narrow it down.
In the end, it’s difficult to recommend Cherry to everyone but those who haven’t seen the bright and bubbly teen turning to drugs story over 1000 times before will probably find something to enjoy here and that’s why it gets a…
Now obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film so make sure you comment below and let me know.
If you want something else to watch then make sure you check out our breakdown of why Justice League sucks. We went over the Joss Whedon film for the last time before the Snyder Cut releases so definitely check it out after this.
With that out the way thank you for sitting through the video, I’ve been Paul and I’ll see you next time. Take care, Peace