Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"A wonderfully life-affirming film with a superb performance by Trewhitt." | Photo: Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Life often throws its biggest curveballs at us at the most chaotic of times. Cherry (Alex Trewhitt) lives in chaos most of the time, so it isn’t particularly surprising that she gets a positive pregnancy test result on the same day that she loses her job. When she tells her friend about the latter problem, the only surprise expressed is that she’s managed to do it again. She does go to see a doctor. It’s expensive because she never got her Medicaid paperwork sorted out, and she has to make up a cancer scare to get an emergency appointment, but it’s clear that the doctor has seen this sort of situation before, and is sympathetic. She gives Cherry the plain facts: she’s at ten weeks, right on the threshold beyond which a chemical abortion won’t work. Whether she wants to remain pregnant or not, she really needs to make her mind up within 24 hours.

In far too many films, people experience one problem at a time. In the real world, life changing moments like this generally occur when one is in the middle of dealing with 20 other things. Cherry needs time to think. She needs somebody to talk to. Everybody she meets is doing 20 other things as well. Though she does managed to speak to the father, a roller disco DJ whose life is centred around his musical ambitions, that doesn’t provide all the reassurance which she might have hoped for, and she finds it difficult to assert her own needs in the face of everybody else’s problems, giving the impression that she has abruptly become more sensitive to them than she was before.

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What will she choose? That’s left for the very end of the film, but it’s not really the point. The fact that she has a choice, and needs to reckon with it, forces her to take stock of her life, reflect on what’s really important to her and grow up fast over the course of one day. It makes her aware of the relationships and opportunities which she’s been taking for granted, and empowers her to the point where one can believe that she’s capable of coping with whatever happens next.

Where this topic is often treated in a heavy-handed manner, Cherry is light on its feet, moving with the grace which its heroine demonstrates on roller skates. It slides with ease between nuanced character work and gentle observational comedy. Though available choices narrow as the film goes by, as they do in life, there is always a sense of possibility. Director Sophie Galibert uses long, fluent takes and trusts her actors. Her confidence is rewarded, with the family scene at the centre of the film a particular treat.

A wonderfully life-affirming film with a superb performance by Trewhitt, Cherry packs a tremendous amount of story into a small package. There's a coming-of-age aspect to it, though its heroine is in her mid-twenties, as she begins to recognise that her parents and grandmother have also faced decision around pregnancies. Realising how unlikely it is that she ever came to be adds to her determination to make the most of it all, whilst the growing awareness of her older family members of real people makes room for a new kind of closeness. Neatly put together, the film celebrates all the messiness of existence.

Reviewed on: 14 Apr 2023
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A driftless young woman discovers she's 11 weeks pregnant and has only 24 hours to make a consequential decision.

Director: Sophie Galibert

Writer: Sophie Galibert, Arthur Cohen

Starring: Alex Trewhitt, Joe Sachem, Dan Schultz, Sandy Duarte, Alice Bang, Hannah Alline, Melinda DeKay, Angela Nicholas, Charlie S. Jensen, Darius Levanté

Year: 2022

Runtime: 76 minutes

Country: US


Tribeca 2022

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