Dirs: Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn. UK. 2008. 82mins.
A teen Jules Et Jim set in Belfast today, Cherrybomb is, true to its title, a series of small predictable explosions as two male friends vie for the same girl. As this is best classified as standard commercial teen TV fare, there is unlikely to be demand for it on the festival circuit and theatrical sales seems unlikely - but Cherrybomb should find a berth on cable in English-speaking territories. Shelf life will depend on how the adult careers of any of the young leads take off. At the least, the film is a respectable calling card for them.
Red-headed Malachy (Harry Potter’s Grint) and thin dark-haired heart-throb Luke (Sheehan) are mates with serious attitude, which they display at the new Leisureplex where Malachy works. When they meet blonde Michelle (Nixon), the daughter of Malachy’s boss, the race is on to get her into bed.
Yet Michelle exploits the boys’ rivalry, although she can’t seem get much attention from her father, David (Nesbitt), who is sleeping with her friend, another Leisureplex worker. After an angry David catches Malachy and Michelle in the act, in his own bed, the trio takes a band of friends to the Leisureplex to get revenge.
Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn direct Belfast native Daragh Carville’s script as a long reconstruction of events which lead to a crime about which the boys are being interrogated as the film opens. The story unfolds as wily Michelle coaxes the boys into an escalating series of adventures, ending with the daughter’s revenge on her father.
Grint coveys an eager-to-please middle-class background as Malachy, contrasted with Luke’s criminal family. As Luke’s father Smiley, a broken drunk scarred from battles with his own sons, Lalor Roddy couldn’t be better. Kimberley Nixon plays Michelle as the hopelessly spoiled girl who still can’t feel much love from her father but yearns for it self-destructively.
The Northern Irish context doesn’t run deep in Cherrybomb. The young characters, whose frustrations are directed at their parents and themselves, reveal no sense of the city’s troubled history and the script makes no mention of it. Belfast here is a contemporary anyplace, and production designer David Craig (with DP Damien Elliott) succeeds in giving the Leisureplex’s interior a sense of trendy kitsch. Every other location has a faceless blandness, which seems deliberate.
The supporting cast is solid and the dialogue often punchy, yet its most inspired moment comes with the siege of the Leisureplex when the trio strike back at Michelle’s dad. The frenzied night ends with graffiti all over the walls and young bodies sprawled around the pool, with the trio blithely afloat on air mattresses. The scene’s teen body count is wry reminder that a bloodier war that many thought would never end is now over.
Green Park Films
Northern Ireland Screen
Irish Film Board
The Little Film Company
(1) 818 762 6999