Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) is an 18-year-old on the verge of finishing high school, rushing to escape her broken family life. After reluctantly taking nude photos at her boyfriend’s (Jonny Weston) behest, she takes the cash to skip town with her best friend (Dev Patel). Angelina gets a job cocktailing in a San Francisco strip club where she meets Frances (James Franco), an affluent lawyer who introduces her to a high-class world beyond her wildest dreams. At the same time, Angelina begins exploring San Francisco’s porn industry, using the moniker Cherry, under the wing of a former performer turned adult film director (Heather Graham). But Angelina’s newfound ideal lifestyle soon comes apart at the seams.
Film informationGenre: Drama
When it comes to working in the pornographic movies industry, society generally seems to think it is a bad idea. There are those that tout the freedom it might bring or the money, but mostly it is considered to be a dangerous thing to do. About Cherry is a film about a young girl that begins taking photos naked for money and eventually “climbs the ladder” to higher rungs on the pornographic scale. On the surface, the movie comes across almost like a recruitment video. This lack of moral judgment is both a strength and a weakness for filmgoers, as it allows others to make their own moral choices. The problem with this, however, is that it only seems to show the decent side of the industry. There is a whole other underbelly that is left notably absent on screen.
The movie centers around a young 18 year old girl named Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) that is living in a horrible environment at home. Her mother (Lili Taylor) is an alcoholic that is constantly making things difficult, and Angelina is working at a dead end job in a Laundromat. One day she is offered the chance to get naked for some pictures and get paid to do it, and she accepts. She realizes how easy it was and uses the money to move to San Francisco with her pal Andrew (Dev Patel). Andrew is a platonic friend that is gay but not, and falls in love with Angelina. Yes, it is that confusing.
Ultimately, Angelina finds her way into porno films via a lesbian director (Heather Graham) and into plenty of poor relationship choices. She meets a coked up lawyer played by James Franco that becomes a point of contention in the movie. He has tons of money but no clue about how to treat a lady.
Ashley Hinshaw does a fantastic job of playing Cherry (Angelina’s stage name) even though the character is written rather blasé. There is little to the character as in the areas that one might expect. She does plenty of worrying about relationships and working, but hardly notices or addresses the fact that she is working for sex. It is a very odd movie indeed. Hinshaw is, however, incredibly radiant and talented in the role. Despite the character being shallow, her ability to shine still makes the movie seem better than it is. I wonder what it might have been like had she been given a role with some meat in it.
James Franco plays the brooding, jealous boyfriend in much the same way he played Peter Parker’s pal in the Spiderman series as far as facial expressions. You get the feeling this awesome actor is trying to make something out of nothing with his role. It really is a shame as the guy can act his tail off.
Heather Graham is facing a very similar problem. Her role is one of a lesbian director that finds Cherry irresistible. She takes on a mentor like role and does well with what is there, but there just is not enough substance to merit her awesome talents in my view.
Director Stephen Elliot and his screenwriter Lorelei Lee are both on top of their game as it were. They are both porn industry veterans that know their way around the topic. It seems as though the movie is written clearly to make the industry look decent and it may very well be in certain situations. The problem is, the vast majority of it can crumble a person’s self-esteem and put them in extremely dangerous situations. To not address that side of the issue seems rather silly in a movie like this.