Note: My review is full of minor spoilers.
Cherrybomb opens with the end of the movie, giving you quite a surprise as we get to see a close up of a bloody and beaten up Malachy being interrogated by the police. Whether you’re a fan or a critic, your attention is immediately captured — perhaps because you can’t believe that it is Rupert Grint who we haven’t seen do anything as intense in his career so far. All images of Ron Weasley and even Rupert Grint himself that you might have had in your mind simply do not exist here.
This is Malachy and this is his world.
The opening song and images are very unique, as you see Malachy standing in the middle of a massive Gymnasium called the LeisurePlex. He works here and this is where most of the movie is centered around. The shots of his face are overwhelmingly close, so you notice every blemish and freckle — but it seems to work nicely and the directing continues this way throughout the movie. No airbrushing, no special effects. Everything is fresh and real and intimate. So Malachy is staring up at the girls flipping around on the balance beams and the song Preparedness begins to play, the lyrics starting with….
Do you know who I am?
As you are introduced to Malachy, you get the idea that he is a curious individual. He’s taking his time soaking things in, and even being a little naughty by spying on his boss Crilly played by James Nesbitt who’s in the other room with a girl young enough to be his daughter! Malachy is a good guy and does really well in school, but his family seems to put too much focus on his accomplishments, rather than actually looking into his face and noticing that there is more to him than good grades. He is aware of this, so he needs Luke to help him escape from a lot of the superficial things in his life.
And then you are also introduced to Luke (Robert Sheehan) who has a much more complicated existence. He is constantly stirring up some trouble, always coming to the Leisureplex and harassing Crilly or reeking some sort of havoc. You wonder immediately what the hell is wrong with this kid — and then you discover the reason why when he comes home to a drunken father and a drug dealing abusive brother. Malachy accepts him though, and doesn’t judge Luke no matter what he does or how extreme he gets. Sometimes Luke is too crazy and you wonder how Malachy is able to keep so calm around him.
Despite his troubles, Luke is known to get the females, but Malachy is confident in who he is so he doesn’t mind it. That is until Michelle (Kimberley Nixon) arrives from London in her stylish clothes and sunglasses. They discover she is the daughter of Malachy’s boss Crilly. Malachy falls pretty fast for her, while Luke is just looking for a way to get laid! So as soon as Luke mentions that he would be the first to sleep with her Malachy shoots back, “Not if I get there first.“
And so things slowly begin to change in their relationship. While they used to lounge around together all day getting high, now they are competing for Michelle. Luke is obviously just in it for the game. All he is does is fill her up with drugs and use words to coax her into bed. He doesn’t care. Malachy on the other hand is immediately smitten by Michelle, so he comes up with more romantic things to do to catch her attention. And although she doesn’t want to admit it, she slowly starts to open up to Malachy. Her own father has pretty much ignored her and written her off as nothing but trouble, so she needs that male attention.
In fact it sort of turns into Michelle trying to make Malachy jealous by mentioning Luke and Luke starting to get annoyed that Malachy is so interested in Michelle. Love triangle indeed! You watch Malachy bend over and snort a hit of cocaine as Luke one last time tells him to just ditch her. Malachy is gone too far though. He’s in fact whipped! She could say the meanest words to him or pour hot scolding water down his back and he will sweetly say “Michelle, please, can I be with you?” – and she can’t help but just give in. It was fun to watch Rupert play somebody so vulnerable and willing to put himself out there.
The story itself is also pretty simple. Yes, it is a first time feature for the directors, but they really did spend a lot of time perfecting the visuals and making little things stand out. From the way the protagonists text each other with flashing messages across the screen and the vivid colors surrounding the actors, there is a lot of eye candy! I believe no matter how many times you go back and watch this movie you will always discover something you hadn’t before!
The chemistry between the cast is flawless. They connect well and look very comfortable with each other on screen. Luke and Malachy share some cute moments as they are laying on the floor, giggling, high as kites. without a care in the world! And even though the language is also pretty foul, at the same time it is true to the way young male adults communicate with each other.
The love scene was actually presented as very sweet and romantic. As I mentioned earlier, the directors’ use of the camera angles is very close and intimate, so every touch, every breath, every kiss and smile and eye contact between Rupert and Kim feel so real as if they are really together. You genuinely feel Malachy’s emotions as he smiles at her and stares into her eyes. The music that plays is just the right tempo and it is all paced well.
Drugs play a huge part. There are many scenes and mish mashes of images of them doing cocaine, smoking, getting high, laying around and just completely drugged out. This is definitely not a film for kids! As another source reported, it really does focus on the dark side of growing up.
The entire pace of the movie flows perfectly and the music helps carry it. And although there were times when you wanted Luke to calm down or you were left sitting there thinking, why did it just end like that, it is a wonderful first time feature with solid acting, great dialogue, intense drama with a bit of humour, so overall it did it’s job and it entertained.
If you can appreciate simplicity and art and just real solid acting without the big plot twist or extraordinary finale then you will like Cherrybomb.