Dir: Quinn Saunders. US. 2010. 98mins
Low-budget LA-set drama Cherry. starts out a familiar dialogue-heavy romantic drama, but cleverly switches tone towards its self-consciously shocking climax, resulting in a film that is broodingly memorable.
If anything the film plays the film’s sex scenes too coyly.
The film received its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Forum of Independents section, and while unlikely to be a must-have film for buyers, it could well intrigue fest programmers willing to get through the stilting early scenes.
Mild-mannered and gushingly romantic Brian Cherry (co-writer Crane) and confident and sexually aggressive Sam (Valentin) are unlikely best pals. During a boozy bar session Sam asks super-sexy Jules (Bordan) to have drink with Cherry (as he is simply called in the film) to cheer him up.
To her surprise, the flighty and far more complex Jules starts a relationship with Cherry, but while he falls desperately in love, she is too strong-willed, fickle and demanding to commit. To make matters worse she starts having sex with Sam after going to work for him at his VIP club business, but both can never admit the truth to Cherry.
She eventually dumps Cherry, but six months later she admits to truth to him about her relationship with Sam. Hurt and enraged, Cherry forces his way into Sam’s apartment and exacts a brutal revenge.
The script has an early obsession with anal sex (discussed not seen performed) and male rape (via a story from a bar regular Juan, played unnervingly by Ben DiGregorio), which eventually works its way back into the story, leaving all the characters emotionally devastated.
Performances are all pretty good, though David Crane’s Cherry is rather too limp to really convince. Rey Valentin (who played Cpl. Gabe Garza in HBO’s Generation KIll) is engagingly smooth and sleazy, while Lily Bordan has a fine time vamping up the self-consciously sexy Jules, and has an undeniable smouldering sexuality.
If anything the film plays the film’s sex scenes too coyly, and may have been better if shot with a greater sense of explicit sexual tension. The drama, while rather slight, is well maintained, with the low-budget nature only really transparent in the rather static shooting style and basic use of locations.
Production company/sales: Fururist Ape Productions, firstname.lastname@example.org
Producer: Brett Henenberg
Screenplay: David Crane, Quinn Saunders
Cinematography: Andrew Russo
Editor: Donald Janice
Production designer: Rachael Ferrara
Music: Cody Westheimer
Main cast: David Crane, Rey Valentin, Lili Bordan