Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes
Rated: R (for nudity, language,
drug use, and adult themes)
Director: Stephen Elliot
Starring: James Franco, Heather
Graham, Dev Patel, Ashley Hinshaw
While at first dismissing the idea, she musters up the courage to attend her first photo shoot, thereafter using the money to run away with her best guy friend “Andrew” (Dev “Slumdog Millionaire” Patel) to San Francisco to make it big.
In San Francisco, while serving drinks in a strip club, Angelina runs into “Frances” (James Franco), a well-to-do attorney who shows her a whole new world of life on the high side of society. But with Frances battling his own demons and Angelina still contending with problems from back home, she moves up in the porn industry under the careful direction of “Margaret” (Heather Graham), a former star-turned-director, to begin a new life for herself.
With “Cherry” (Angelina’s acquired nickname), we truly get to see a world where bad homes breed bad decisions, and her decisions often only aspire to escape what she grew up with. With the exception of her best friend, the people in her life are rotten choices, choices that affect her in some way, but they are choices you’d expect from someone who grew up in an abusive, broken home.
Whereas so many movies focus on the girl going to the big city and having a hard time trying to see her name in lights, Cherry seems to just have good luck from square one. Both she and her best friend get a steal of a deal on an apartment with no looking needed, and she immediately has two opportunities in the adult film world to make good money. So it seems running away to catch your dreams is not hard at all if you are just open-minded (chameleonic) like she is.
When certain people in her life start to mind her career path, she takes issue with them, and that’s the problem with Cherry—she uses everyone in her life as a steppingstone to look out for herself. We all do it to some degree, but she to a much greater degree. Aspects of her personality make her an unlikable loner who deserves to be alone.
Filmed at the San Francisco Armory, home to kink.com, the largest adult film studio in the world, with writer and porn performer Loralei Lee, the movie was supposed to give background on the adult film world and challenge assumptions about its stars. But even the adult aspects of the film (top-up female nudity, occasional dildos and sex toys in camera view, references to solo masturbation scenes, and talk of “power exchange,” and the usual guy-on-gal and gal-on-gal scenes being planned out behind camera), the film even here struggles to be stimulating in its limiting constraints.
The movie tries to glamorize porn in a way that will reach those “free spirits” in general audiences, but it gets back to the personality of Angelina, as she leaches out money, a place to stay, and companionship from the people who will have her. She’s bisexual because her character pretty much had to be, and it’s become cool in movies when a chick can get gratification from a guy in one chapter of a film and a girl in the next, and let life go on like there is no difference.
Angelina never wins us, and it is because we never really fell for her to start with, as much as we did hate her drunk of a mother and feel sorry for her young sister. Overall, the film falls just short of selling itself or its performances, although most of which do remain on the respectable side. What we needed here was a lead character who had more to lose and more to give.