Review: ‘Cherrybomb’ by Soph

published 5 March 2009
written by Soph

Warning: The review contains minor spoilers and some strong language

I’ve been trying to write a review that isn’t full of spoilers and also doesn’t repeat the same things that have already been said about this great movie. We’ve already received fantastic insights into the psychology of the characters from reviews like those by Karo and Ivana. So I decided I’m going to approach this (admittedly Rupert-centric) review by describing some moments and impressions rather than give another run-down of the, by now, familiar storyline.

The first thing I want to say about this movie, obviously, is that Rupert is absolutely fantastic in it. From the first, rather unsettling shot of him, you will be impressed. He’s looking directly out at the viewer, covered in drying, coagulating blood, in what looks to be a playback of a very worn-out police interview videotape. It’s a close-up shot, and with the blood darkening his features and with the graininess of the ‘video’ his haunted eyes stand out starkly, and we can hear him taking trembling breaths. As we’re seeing this jarring image, an investigator is questioning him. Finally, he gives a short, one sentence reply, his deep, raspy voice rumbling out in the theatre, and the opening titles begin. It was like being doused with cold water. Immediately, you are plunged into what promises to be an intense story, and any preconceived notions the audience might have that this is going to be like anything they’ve seen from Rupert Grint are quickly disposed of.

Being Rupert fans as we are, we have come to know his sweet-natured, rather quiet personality through interviews, interaction with fans, and promotional appearances. So it’s even that much more impressive when you see him transform on screen into Malachy McKinney. Malachy has a confidence and a swagger to him that we haven’t really seen before, a touch of cockiness as well. He’s not afraid to answer back and mouth-off to his boss Crilly, or get in Luke’s face when Luke infuriates him. He can be openly lascivious, too, like when he’s watching transfixed as the girl gymnasts are turning flips on the trampoline, the camera lingering in slow motion on their curves. Or when he’s voyeuristically watching Crilly having sex with an employee in his office. And of course, when Michelle makes her first appearance, there is a look of naked lust on Malachy’s face as his eyes rake her body. That’s not to say Malachy is a complete horndog jerk. Cherrybomb does a good job of keeping the characters very likable, even if they spend a lot of the film doing things that are less than socially acceptable.

As you’ve probably gathered from most of the reviews by now, the focus of the movie is on the friendship of Luke and Malachy, and how strained it becomes when the guys find themselves competing for Michelle’s affections. The scenes of Luke and Malachy together are wonderful to watch. The two characters contrast nicely with each other, with Luke the crazy, over-the-top hell-raiser, and Malachy, the more sensitive and even-keeled of the two (but still prone to bouts of serious rebellion). But even though they are so different in background and temperament, you still get the sense they are nicely balanced and on equal footing. Or if anyone is at an advantage, it is Malachy. You feel that as much as Malachy probably admires Luke’s cool facade and looks up to him for his ease with the opposite sex, Luke probably needs Malachy more as the only person he can really count on in his life. There is something genuinely touching about their friendship, and so it’s particularly affecting when you see it starting to fall apart.

Well, I said I wouldn’t get too much into the psychology again about the characters, so I’ll tell you about certain specific scenes and impressions. The whole movie is full of images that will stick with you. It’s so visually and stylistically interesting, and with such an effective marriage of soundtrack and story. I think you’ll find, even with the wait (hopefully not too long) for an eventual DVD, you’ll still have vivid memories to last you. An example are the club scenes, when Malachy, Luke, and Michelle are dancing together (yes, you do see a little bit of dancing from Rupert–it looks good, not a trace of Ben Marshall awkwardness at all). The way the scene is edited, with cuts fading in and out, and close-up focus on faces and sensuous lips, the red lighting, the sexy music, Michelle’s attention swinging from Luke to Malachy as they all move together…there’s no other way to say it, it’s hot. It’s definitely meant to highlight Michelle’s seductiveness and set the erotic undertone of the movie. You certainly get the impression it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this could lead to a “menage a trois”.

A similar editing style is used in the big party scenes towards the end of the movie, and this time the effects are employed to create in the viewer that feeling of being as high as the characters are as they drink, pop ecstasy, smoke weed, and partake of whatever else is in Luke’s duffel bag of tricks. But again, the threat–or promise–of a threesome is there, in the shot of Luke pulling Malachy’s face close before planting a kiss on his cheek. There is an affectionate, lingering look between the two beautiful boys that should gladden and excite Luchy shippers to no end (incidentally, somebody asked in the ladies’ room after the screening, “Didn’t Rupert and Robert look great together?” to which my answer was, “They looked gorgeous.”).

And of course, the sex scene. What to say that hasn’t already been said? It’s beautiful and much more tender than you’d probably expect. And from a purely Rupert fangirl or boy point of view, it’s gold. Lovely close up shots as portions of Malachy and Michelle’s bodies are revealed (but staying away from being too revealing), and much heart-thumping kissing. I literally felt myself blushing and my face getting hot at how gorgeous and sweetly sexy Rupert was in that scene, and I am NOT new to erotic love scenes. His sexy little smiles between kisses will melt you into a puddle. I’m pretty sure my pulse rate shot up to dangerous levels in these scenes.

Cherrybomb is categorized as a thriller/romance, and even though there is a triangle going on, it’s plain the romance is coming from Rupert’s character and the way Malachy and Michelle are beginning to draw together. He is losing his heart to Michelle. When Michelle challenges Malachy to “top” Luke’s spectacle at the club, Malachy responds with a little romantic vandalism–poetic graffiti leading from Michelle’s home to the leisureplex. After his (mis)deed, Malachy is admiring the paint stains on his shirt in the mirror, a dreamy smile playing on his lips, as if even he is happily surprised at how far he’s willing to go for this girl. When Michelle dismissively tells him that he overestimated the nature of their relationship “just because I sucked your cock,” he’s clearly hurt by it, but he tries to brush it off by remarking sullenly, “Well, never mind, if you’re gonna be a dick about it.”

As the movie draws closer to it’s climax, though, you get the sense Malachy is the one who is breaking through Michelle’s hardened barrier. He stands up for her against Luke’s crass insistence on his “turn”, to the point that the boys end up fighting in the pool at the Leisureplex. Watch carefully, and you’ll see a nice big scratch across Luke’s back. Recall Rupert’s description of how physical it got filming that scene and it’s safe to say it’s probably real. After the watery tussle, Malachy goes to comfort Michelle, and here, Rupert is again remarkably tender. If the general movie-going public is under the misconception that Rupert cannot play the romantic, heartthrob lead, their concerns will be laid safely to rest. He can do it, and do it in spades, and leave girls (and guys) sighing with longing.

I feel like I’m ignoring Robert and Kim in this review, but they are just as good as you have heard. Robert in particular was really impressive in some of his more dramatic scenes opposite the sad character of his father. And he and Rupert, as I’ve said, play very well off each other. Kim swung easily from saucy tart to softly vulnerable and she looked lovely. And God bless her for having a real girl’s body. There’s a part where she strips to her underwear to jump into the pool, and take it from a straight girl, she has a lush body. None of this stick-thin, ribs-and-spinal-cord-displaying bullcrap we’re meant to accept as “sexy.”

To be honest, though, as I often do when watching a movie with Rupert, I found my focus being drawn onto him. Not just for the fact that he looked absolutely delicious in this (because he certainly did), but because he is just so brilliant at what he does. Every nuance of expression is dead on, every gesture and posture. I know I sound like I’m plainly gushing about it, but you’ll just have to see for yourself. He inhabits his character so well, you completely forget Ron Weasley or Ben Marshall, or even Rupert himself and you are just watching Malachy McKinney, a complete stranger to us at the beginning of the movie, but a young man we get to know and like, even love.

Well, as I said, I don’t want to repeat too much of what you already know, and I don’t want to spoil the movie much more. The people who have posted their reviews gave a good amount of information while still leaving room for surprises, and I hoped to do the same. I will tell you as far as the climax of the story, it was a sufficient enough surprise for the audience that an audible gasp of shock was heard throughout the theatre.

To wrap this up, I couldn’t have been more satisfied at the way this movie turned out. It surpassed my hopes and expectations, I was just riveted through the whole film. The acting was good to excellent, the visuals were unique and fresh, the music was a fantastic fit. I can’t WAIT to get my hands on a proper soundtrack. More than that, I can’t wait to see Cherrybomb again. If they could have respooled the film and started it all over, I wouldn’t have moved from seat. And I can’t wait for all of you to get to see it. You’ll be even prouder than you already are of being a Rupert Grint fan.

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