Cherry (2023) Review

Not to be confused with the Russo brothers’ bloated mess of the same name, Cherry is an indie dramedy about the titular twentysomething girl (Alex Trewhitt) who finds out she’s going to have a baby after taking a home pregnancy test. Being a mum can be a wonderful and rewarding experience but not for Cherry, who freaks out upon discovering her unplanned pregnancy. As if her day couldn’t get any worse, she got fired from her job as a street magician at a local costume shop by her boss (Joe Sachem), who had enough of her excuses for being late to work.

Soon, we see her visiting a clinic at the last minute and the doctor-on-duty Dr Amalia Garcia-Ortega (Sandy Duarte) tells Cherry she’s already in her 10th week and it’s nearing 11 weeks soon. Cherry is given two choices: Either keep the baby or get an abortion and she has only 24 hours to make a decision.

The rest of the movie revolves around Cherry going from one place to another. This includes meeting up with her boyfriend Nick (Dan Schultz), a DJ working at a roller-skating rink to talk about her being pregnant. She is also unsure whether to go on a tour with the rest of the L.A. Roller Girls members and having a tough time trying to break the news in front of her family including her divorced mum (Angela Nicholas) and older sister, Anna (Hannah Alline) during a Mother’s Day celebration.

Alex Trewhitt and Dan Schultz in "Cherry" (2023)

Winner of the last year’s Audience Award at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, Cherry only runs a scant 76-minute long, which certainly helps to justify the story about a girl forced to make the most important decision of her life within 24 hours. Director Sophie Galibert, who also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Arthur Cohen, doesn’t waste time getting the story off the ground. The movie benefits from a well-paced narrative structure as we follow Cherry’s emotionally frustrating journey throughout the 24-hour period while tackling relatable themes of teen pregnancy and abortion without making them sound preachy.

Instead, Galibert manages to strike a fine balance between drama and comedy, allowing the aforementioned sensitive subject matters not to end up too dour and depressing. The humour feels more organic than broad and forceful and thankfully doesn’t overwhelm the drama that Galibert wanted to tell here. For instance, this can be seen during an awkward moment between Cherry and the clinic assistant played by Darius Levanté.

But what really makes Cherry an absorbing dramedy is the brilliant casting of Alex Trewhitt, who previously appeared in a few TV series including last year’s From Scratch on Netflix. From the opening scene where the camera lovingly captured Trewhitt’s carefree-looking Cherry roller-skating her way to work accompanied by the background tune of Vita Levina singing the breezy cover of Nina Simone’s “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life”, she has that magnetic presence you can’t take your eyes off her. Her effortless charm is undeniable and so does her sympathetic performance as she successfully conveys her inner thoughts and emotions that it’s hard not to root for her. She may have been seen as an irresponsible person in the beginning but the subsequent revelation about her unexpected pregnancy forces her to face adulthood. A tough call to make not only about choosing between having a baby or getting an abortion but also the following consequences of how she’s going to shape the rest of her life. And for that, both Trewhitt and Galibert did a great job exploring the coming-of-age angle of the character arc and the story.

The ending may wrap up a little too tidy but it was just a minor shortcoming, which doesn’t deter me from saying this: Cherry is a great indie dramedy bolstered by Sophie Galibert’s engaging direction and Alex Trewhitt’s breakthrough performance.