Saturday, June 23, 2012

Movie – Cherry Crush (2007)

I had never heard of the film Cherry Crush when I found it in a bargain bin.  While this isn't usually a good sign, I've seen enough decent films in these bins to not immediately ignore a DVD I find there.  Sometimes these are films that didn't sell because they didn't fit into any standard genre like romantic comedy or action.  Like I mentioned with Brick, this is an R rated movie with teens as the leads, two things that would have limited its audience.  I saw this movie had Nikki Reed in it and from the description I could tell that it was a noir-like film.  Looking for another movie like Brick (2005) I did a blind buy on it.  While it’s not all that I hoped it would be, I still liked it well enough to include it in this category.

Where Brick (2005) was a Maltese Falcon kind of noir story, Cherry Crush is much more in the tradition of Double Indemnity or Body Heat.  What I mean by that is that it is the story of a man who gets caught up with a woman who leads him down a path into all kinds of trouble.  Don’t think you know the ending of the film already, though.

Jordan Wells (Jonathan Tucker) is a rich kid attending a private school.  His father already has his life planned out for him, including the right kind of girlfriend (Julie Gonzalo), but what Jordan is really interested in is photography.  This gets him in trouble.  A local detective (Michael O’Keefe), who is a morality crusader, finds Jordan’s website where he has posted photos he has taken of nude models.  The women’s faces are not shown and they are only identified by the name of their favorite shade of lipstick.  The detective is positive that something illegal must have gone on, that a girl was underage and/or Jordan had had sex with them.

Jordan explains that he has clear cuts rules: 1. All models had to be at least 18; 2. None would be identified; and 3. Above all, no sex.  Jordan is all about not getting involved with his subjects because of the potential trouble it could lead to.  The detective doesn’t believe him, but he can’t arrest him without evidence.  He does succeed in getting Jordan kicked out of the private school he is attending because Jordan admits that his subjects were students there.

His first day at public school he sees Shay Bettencourt (Nikki Reed).  She’s a cello player with dreams of going to a good college and maybe playing in an orchestra someday.  He strikes up a conversation with her about a book, she is intrigued, and the two start spending time together.  It turns out she’s from “the wrong side of the tracks”.  She lives in a crappy house with a drug addicted sister.  We start to see just how important it is to her to get out of there.

She hid this from him at first, but since she is now telling the truth, she lets Jordan know that she’s aware of why he got kicked out of his last school and that she believes she’s lined up a way for her to afford college.  An older, married man (Frank Whaley) who knows her family has told her he can use his connections to get her scholarships.  She asks Jordan to photograph the two of them when they meet, in case this man tries to back out of this.  If Jordan does this for her, she will pose for him the same way the girls at his last school did. The name of her favorite lipstick?  Cherry Crush.  So much for not getting involved with his subjects.

As you can probably guess, the photos are really for blackmailing the married man into giving her the money.  He refuses and tries to attack Shay.  Jordan comes to her aid, some fighting occurs, and one dead sugar daddy is the result.  It’s not a total loss, though, because they’ve still got the money he was refusing to turn over.

Cue the detective that already has a strong dislike for Jordan.  He comes sniffing around both Jordan and Shay, starts to figure some things out, and decides to start applying pressure on Shay.  He’d love to nail Jordan to the wall.  Will Shay turn on Jordan?  Will Jordan turn on Shay?  How accidental has this situation been anyway?

Nikki Reed first came to my attention when she co-wrote and co-starred in the movie Thirteen (2003) at the age of 15.  She did several more independent films after that, including this one.  More recently, though, either she or her agent has decided the best thing for her career is to take small roles in big movies like the Twilight ones.

I had only seen Jonathan Tucker in a starring role in Stateside (2004) with Rachel Leigh Cook, although he had been playing supporting roles in films for years (i.e. The Virgin Suicides).

I feel Reed did a better job with her role in the film than Tucker did, although that could just be because she gets to play the more interesting character.  I love one of her lines where her character is describing herself – “I have two talents in life, and the second one is knowing how to use the first one.”  She does a disservice to herself, because she is obviously smarter than Jordan is.  By the way, this quote sounds like a reference to an earlier noir film, but I am drawing a blank on which one.

As I wrote at the top, this film didn’t have everything I was hoping for from it, but it is still worth seeing if you like noir movies.  I recommend you give this a try.

Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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  1. I didn't like this film. I couldn't get into it. Nikki Reed was OK but I found a lot of things to be unbelievable. It was too much of a mess for me to be engaged by. Jonathan Tucker is an OK actor but he's best when he's in supporting roles unless he's playing a villain or a tough hood which he's not very good at playing.

  2. Hey, at least someone else has seen this film. From the comments I got for the parent post I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I was expecting some twist at the end.
    Everything seemed to happen as expected which disappointed me :)
    Anyways, I didnt feel like I wasted my time.

    But again, it was quite open ended, which is difficult for me to digest ;-)

    1. Yes, it does leave it up to the viewer some to decide what they think will happen. Thanks for commenting.