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About Cherry

2012 | 102 min | R | 1.85:1

About Cherry


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Movie appeal

Dark humor-



Theatrical release date

 21 September, 2012
 02 September, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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Screenshots from About Cherry Blu-ray

About Cherry Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 20, 2012

If “About Cherry” actually contained a story concerning the leading lady known as Cherry, it would be a far more enlightening picture. Instead, the movie is a drippy, incomplete effort from first-time director Stephen Elliot, who has a functional idea to drill inside the scattered mind of an aspiring adult film actress, yet he lacks the concentration required to shape these acidic experiences into a cohesive tale of panty-dropping enlightenment. The feature is all over the place, spending valuable time with vague characters and implausible personal exchanges, resulting in a muddled, inconsequential journey of a surprisingly unsympathetic character and her hazy ride to the top of the porno food chain.

Raised on the outskirts of Los Angeles in an abusive home, high schooler Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) is aching to abandon her life, yet feels obligated to protect her little sister. In a rare flash of bravery, Angelina and friend Andrew (Dev Patel) make a break for San Francisco, sharing a tiny apartment with hope to make a home for themselves in their new surroundings. Building on some topless photographs she took in L.A., Angelina rechristens herself “Cherry” and works herself into fetish pornography, making a splash on the scene while bewitching director Margaret (Heather Graham), who’s suffering in a combative relationship with realtor Jillian (Diane Farr). Earning money while trying to ignore the interests of her alcoholic mother (Lili Taylor), Angelina looks for love in the arms of cokehead lawyer Frances (James Franco), while a temptation to move up to boy/girl scenes lingers in her future.

For the first 45 minutes, “About Cherry” takes on an almost procedural tone when approaching Angelina’s initial curiosity with the adult film business. It’s an unexpectedly cold tone of experience that brings the character arc to life, permitting the audience to understand the drastic steps toward such a life-changing decision and the daily activity of such a vocation, observing interviews and make-up room banter. There’s a promise that Elliot might keep to the business particulars of porn, eschewing melodramatics and queasy titillation to actually dissect the mechanics of the industry, away from its familiar screen journey as a cesspool of creeps and personal violations. Instead of grime, there are tax forms, rigid directorial instruction, and a drug-free life outside of the studio, inspecting a bizarre functionality to the gig that keeps the carnival of flesh in business.

Elliot abandons the promise of clarity when he stumbles into formulaic characterizations, expanding the focus past Angelina to the broken lives of her family and friends, with Andrew a particular question mark, unleashed in San Francisco without a defined sexual identity, assumed gay by his roommate when he’s actually more of a timid soul. A subplot spotlighting the dysfunctional relationship between Margaret and Jillian is simply a disaster, plodding along without much thought put into their domestic conflicts and sexual compatibility, with a late-inning kitchen tryst so clumsily assembled, it’s actually embarrassing to watch.

“About Cherry” is undefined and tedious, reaching a peak of absurdity with Francis, played by Franco in a distracted manner that suggests he wanted to be anywhere but on the set. Without time to create an understanding of attraction between the pair (Angelina openly spitting into James’s glass of whiskey is their meet cute), the union turns into a Lifetime Movie in a hurry, with jealous James losing himself to drug abuse, while Angelina, previously scripted as observant and intelligent, can’t ditch an obviously destructive, easily avoidable situation.

Salacious details are missing from “About Cherry,” which takes a softcore approach to hardcore matters, relying on ample nudity from Hinshaw to soften issues of discomfort by placing attention on camera seduction, making the viewer a spectator to the erosion of innocence. If only the script had such lofty ambitions to remain with Angelina and her rise in the porno ranks, actually taking the temperature of her life as she escalates her commitment to the gig. Instead, there’s only a shadow of experience to study, with the cop-out ending straining to reach a cyclical position of responsibility without earning the arc. There’s nothing interesting to “About Cherry” beyond Angelina, rendering Elliot’s dramatic interests insignificant, especially when it competes for screen time with something as visually and dramatically charged as the birth of a porn queen.

Starring: Heather Graham, James Franco, Lili Taylor, Dev Patel, Jonny Weston
Director: Stephen Elliott

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