Cherry is stuck and yet also keeps skating by, quite literally actually. Cherry (Alexandria Trewhitt who deserves to be a major star) laces up her cherry red roller skates and rolls through the streets of L.A. to the tune of a covered version of Nina Simone’s “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life.” And that really is all Cherry has at the moment, she has life. What appears to be a carefree skate to work quickly reveals that Cherry is also carrying life. Yes, Cherry is pregnant and from her reaction it clearly wasn’t part of her plan. Sophie Galibert directs and co-writes (alongside Arthur Cohen) this delightful coming of age story not just about pregnancy, but also what it means to become an adult and if having a baby actually solidifies you as one. It is also an important eye opener for some about the current health care system and the difficult life changing decisions women must face each day.
Even without the pregnancy Cherry’s life is at a colorful standstill. She works as a balloon magician at a local costume and party store, where her boss constantly (but somewhat gently) reminds her of her tardiness. Trewhitt has that uncertainty but excitement (even in the mundane) attitude down pact. She isn’t great at her job, but she gracefully stumbles through the day, even when it comes to her trying to make a balloon sword for a young boy when it clearly looks like a penis which causes her to be fired for what seems like the 100th time. Cherry is both innocent and well aware of her faults and Trewhitt is hysterical as she tries to explain herself when its already too far gone. But the script does a good job at acknowledging this isn’t the main thing on Cherry’s mind. At already eleven weeks pregnant Cherry has very little time to make a huge decision. Abortion and health care movies are becoming more common today (as they should be) in 2020 alone both “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” and “Unpregnant” did a great job not only showing the importance of these issues, but also the impact they have on young women that still are trying to find themselves. Cherry is part of that discussion now. A film that wants to bring awareness, while also allowing its lead woman to be someone who isn’t defined by their situation, but in fact hasn’t even had the chance to create their own story. Galibert directs a smart balance of humor with drama particularly in a scene involving planned parenthood that begins as a comical look at the healthcare system and quickly evolves into an emotional and powerful moment involving Cherry choosing to both hear and see what is growing inside her. Credit to both Sandy Duarte as the doctor and Darius Levante as the desk attendant who make the scene more accurate as they both guide Cherry but also stay true to the “another day at the work” attitude.
Cherry’s need to make a decision is just a starting point for her next twenty-four hours as she also must find the babies father Nick (Dan Schultz) reconnect with her skating group run by her friend Jess (Alice Bang) and attend an extremely uncomfortable but hysterical Mother’s Day lunch. Cherry’s decision (at the moment) to keep the baby is based on the common notion that it will make her an adult. Galibert, Cohen and Trewhitt all do well at showing that for many millennials and even generation z there is still the forced narrative that one must get married and start a family in order to both be a true adult and one that has reached success. When Cherry makes herself believe this to be the case it isn’t ignorance as much as it is wanting to satisfy the generations above that have made it normal. The decision she must make is obviously not an easy one, but the reality (and one done well by the film) is that no other societal issue or prejudgment should be the driving force pushing her one way. The movie never explores if Cherry would make a good mother or not, because that isn’t necessarily the issue, instead our guide is Cherry a young girl who still has a lot of discovery and reconnection to make in her life regardless of what is happening inside her.
One of the best parts of independent cinema and film festival is never knowing when you see the next big thing. Galibert has collected a lovely cast and Trewhitt is not just the lead but someone who deserves to be a major star. This is credit to not just her talents but the film being able to feel so natural and honest that Trewhitt’s performance has all her surroundings working to match her skills. Galibert and cinematographer Damien Steck also use Cherry’s skating passion as a way to show off L.A. in a way that is authentically stunning. There is no need to spice up L.A. with a ton of false lighting and staging instead, they let the city speak for itself. L.A. has been a character in countless amounts of films, but it is always exciting to see it happen again and with such a keen eye. It all adds to the fact that Cherry like many women her age are in this situation and she is one of thousands of stories that deserve to be told. The film at only seventy-eight minutes might have more to offer, and in a criticism turned compliment one would want a longer time with Cherry to see the rest of her self discovery journey, but the time spent is a joy. The film is an important reminder of what is going on in the world, but it also is a great showcase of how being stuck in any form of adolescence should not be seen as a negative. Too many young people today are seen as not catching up to speed fast enough, but in reality they are skating at their own pace and actually figuring it out, and much like Cherry there is still tons to do and plenty of time.
CHERRY PREMIERED AT THE 2022 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL. IT IS CURRENTLY SEEKING U.S. DISTRIBUTION