Monday, May 10, 2010 at 1:30AM
The Artswire Weekly in Film Reviews, Reviews, Reviews by Alex Cirillo

Directed by Jeffrey Fine

2010. USA.  


writer bio

How do you recreate an Ivy League university and shoot a beautiful film for a mid-six-figure budget?  Shoot in the Mid West and take full advantage of tax incentives!

Cherry, directed by Jeffrey Fine, was filmed in both Kalamazoo and Chicago but you’d never know it wasn’t New England’s Brown University.  The film shot for just under one million dollars and they managed to get back nearly a third of the budget through tax credits!  Seriously!  It’s quite impressive that the production team with Executive Producer Paul Kurta, who built his career working on big budget projects, was able to adapt to a small budget and still create a stunning product. 

Shot on both the RED and the Sony EX3, Fine made bold and clever choices; I mistook several scenes for being shot on film.  He skillfully used the EX3 as the principal camera in all of the night scenes.  DP Marvin V. Rush wisely used deep shadows and was able to control any depth of field issues he would have run into filming with a more expensive and sensitive camera.  Through avoiding intercutting between the two cameras I could hardly tell the difference between them, though I’m sure a more finely tuned eye could. 

Aside from being visually stimulating, the story also kept me engaged, albeit mostly because the genre is consistently inconsistent.  Based on the first few scenes I was expecting a goofy college movie.  To be fair, the opening scenes are striking and the exposition is more intelligent than your average cheesy movie about a freshman virgin, but the roommate with the double popped collars and neon framed sunglasses really got my mind going in the wrong direction. 

Aaron (Kyle Gallner), said freshman virgin, has very clear goals from the start: don’t make the same (unknown) mistake that his father made; break free from his mother’s regime; design a machine that will allow him to walk on water for his engineering class; and, of course, lose his virginity.  You’ve seen this premise before (minus the whole walk on water Jesus thing), but Aaron achieves his goals in a much smarter and more compelling way than most films with a similar set up.  

The film fluctuates from comedy, to drama, to action, all peppered with a dash of made-for-TV women’s fiction.  There’s a little something for everyone: luaus in dorm bathrooms, car chases, love triangles and corny lines about floating away with a handful of “get well soon” balloons.  But c’est la vie when you’re an unseasoned 17-year-old in love with a confused 34-year-old woman whose precocious 14-year-old daughter has a fiery crush on you.  Through a tumultuous year of hairy women (played by David Mamet’s daughter, Zosia), ass beatings, and minor acts of statutory rape, Aaron grows wiser and is no longer fooled by women who claim to tie cherry stems with their tongues.

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