Directed by brother filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo, “Cherry,” based on Nico Walker’s predominantly autobiographical debut novel, is filled with “Dr. Whomever” blossoms, announcing that this film will be a little different from the regular Russos fare (these small-known films like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Captain America: Civil War”, “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame”). The Russos are deeply entrenched in the Marvel Universe, and “Cherry” is the opposite in almost every way possible, not just because of its subject matter – a searing critique of the Iraq War, not to mention the shameful treatment of veterans. on their return home. , as well as a critique of doctors pushing Oxy on their patients, resulting in the catastrophic opioid epidemic we all know and hate. “Cherry” compulsively comments on himself, and the results are mixed. Some of these flourishes work well – although the influence of “GoodFellas” is felt too much, and there are times when another kind of movie struggles to express itself, something much darker, something more in line with the frank frankness of the source material.
Walker’s novel is based on his own experiences with war, opioid addiction, and crime. It’s a big book about big things, written in the first person in the present tense, with a dark, flat tone. Comparisons to writers like Denis Johnson or Charles Bukowski are appropriate, although Walker is also part of the growing crowd of veteran writers, who have returned from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan with stories to tell, writers like Phil Klay. (including the excellent first collection of stories, Redeployment, won the National Book Award in 2014). Walker’s story is a little different, however, as upon his return from Iraq to Cleveland, he became addicted to opiates and robbed 11 banks over a period of four months. He was eventually arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison. After Buzzfeed did a huge article on Walker, the book publishers came calling. Walker wrote cherry during his incarceration. The book was praised by all (Walker used part of the profits to pay off the banks he robbed). Walker was released from prison in 2019, just in time to see his novel adapted to the cinema.
Walker’s gift as an author draws you into his experience with simple but vivid language, and he does so seemingly effortlessly. For example, on what it feels like to do with heroin: “The taste comes first; then the race begins. And all is well, the heat is going through me. Until the taste becomes stronger than it is. Usually, so loud it’s sickening. And I understand it: how I was still dead, my ears were ringing. “That’s very good. Or this, so unexpected and funny that it rings true: “One thing about bank restraint is that you mostly steal from women, so you never want to be rude.” Like Christian Lorentzen noted in his review for New York Magazine, cherry has “nothing of the smell of an MFA program”.