You know the adage about no accounting for taste? It certainly holds true for director and co-writer Sophie Galibert’s “Cherry” (Cherry Film), winner of the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award.
Movies about abortion are nothing new. But recent events, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade, have put the issue front and center in everyone’s mind. Titular character Cherry (Alex Trewhitt) is a young woman who is barely responsible enough to keep her job working for Roger (Joe Sachem), the owner of a Los Angeles costume shop. Even her side gig doing magic tricks and making balloon animals backfires on Cherry.
So, when she discovers that she’s 10 weeks pregnant with boyfriend Nick’s (Dan Schultz) baby, it’s apparent that she’s incapable of giving the situation the immediate attention it requires. Lying to get an appointment at a clinic, she is told by the doctor (Sandy Duarte), who happens to be very pregnant, that she has limited time to make big decisions about her future. On the cusp of her 11th week, she has the option for abortion by pill. If she waits, Cherry has the option of a costly surgical abortion (she doesn’t have health insurance).
Between 6 pm on Saturday and 9 am on Monday, we watch as Cherry fumbles her way through interactions with the people in her life. Showing up after a lengthy absence from the L.A. Roller Girls, a roller skating dance troupe of which she was a member, she gets the cold shoulder from her best friend Mia (Alice Bang), who is also the leader of the group.
Cherry then heads to the roller rink where Nick, a backwards baseball cap kind of dude, is a DJ. Her choice of method for delivering the pregnancy news to him also doesn’t go well for her. Her cavalier use of the “my body, my choice” slogan has little impact on Nick.
The next day, Sunday, is Mother’s Day. Cherry heads to her mother Carla’s (Angela Nicholas) house where, try as she may to share her news, she’s drowned out by her conservative New York lawyer older sister Ann (Hannah Aline) and dementia-impaired grandmother (Melinda deKay). Later that day, Cherry calls on her father (Charlie S. Jensen) for help jumping her vintage, cherry red VW Bug convertible. As with everyone else in her life, Cherry is simply unable to communicate what has transpired and the difficult decision facing her, to her father either.
Therein lies the problem with “Cherry.” It’s hard to feel empathy for a character who is so completely self-absorbed, and yet unable to express her needs at a time when they need to be heard. That’s too bad, because this is an example of an important concept deserving of better execution.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of eight books including the poetry chapbook Fear of Muses (Souvenir Spoon Books, 2022). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.