Cherry short film review

★★ Directed by: #RubénGiuliani Written by: #RubénGiuliani

Starring: #AaryanAmbegaonkar, #OliverBuckingham, #JuliusJackson

Film Review by: Alexander Erting-Haynes

Cherry is a short film set in Cambridgeshire, England in 1930. It tells the story of Will, a writer from America who has recently enjoyed success thanks to his debut novel. As a result of this, his expertise has been requested by Dr Drummond, a wealthy English gentleman, who wants Will to write his biography. The audience meets these characters as they sit side by side on a bench. Will is facing severe writers' block so Drummond approaches with cognac to try to grease up the creative cogs.


The film comes in at just over eight minutes and five of these are spent with these characters as they sit and talk about Drummond's life and the process of writing. Due to the static nature of the film, the script is one of the most important factors and fortunately, for the most part, it works well. Where Will is lacking in charisma, often stumbling over his short non-responses, Drummond is eccentric and watchable. His dialogue is confidently written and his musings sometimes come detached, making for engaging viewing. The main issue here is that it's so one-sided, meaning this interesting character has nobody to bounce off of and instead the conversation ends up falling a little flat.


On top of this, the performances at the heart of the piece aren't altogether believable. Aaryan Ambegaonkar, playing Will, is never given much of a chance to inhabit the character. Instead, he is left almost exclusively with 'ums' and 'ahs' and when he does speak full sentences, his American accent is inconsistent. Oliver Buckingham, on the other hand, who portrays Drummond, fluctuates in his performance. At times he sells it completely, nailing the whimsical, mysterious gentleman, but at others his acting is stiff and unnatural.


Without spoiling too much, the film does take a left turn in its second half and this is where it begins to form more of an identity of its own. As the cognac sinks in, almost certainly having been laced with something, visions begin to appear to Will of a dancing man who performs to Drummond's trumpet playing. It's a refreshing and invigorating beat that brings to mind the works of David Lynch, albeit on a much smaller budget. While this does help to create a more alluring work, it is still important to question the importance of this stylistic choice in relation to the narrative or message of the piece and ultimately, there does seem to be something of a disconnect.


All of this being said, the film is shot very nicely. The setting is enough to serve the plot while also providing a pleasant backdrop to the action. The opening shots, in particular, are beautiful as we see Will walking down country lanes in beaming sunshine. However, there are some glaring continuity errors throughout, such as a long shot having been shot in the middle of the day that switches to a close-up that was clearly shot separately in the evening. It's little things like this that serve to detract from the overall pleasing aesthetic of the movie.


Rubén Giuliani, who wrote and directed Cherry, clearly had a vision going into the project. The shots are often beautiful, the script has sparks of genuine magnetism and the surreal slant is refreshing. If just a little more work was put into each of these areas - a focus on continuity, a more engaging straight man and more of a reason for the absurdist turn - then this could have resulted in a special film. As is, it's an interesting watch that's rough around the edges.


#AlexanderErtingHaynes