Directed by Stephen Elliott
The title gets at the problem: who cares about Cherry? A high-school student and part-time launderer who escapes the bleakness of her life in Long Beach—suggested by jump cuts, a shaky handheld camera, and a cold color palette—for the promise of San Francisco, where she falls into the porn industry (in which she’d previously only dabbled), working her way up from solo photos to “boy-girl” shoots. Welcome to the world of pornographic video—not just the titillating shoots themselves, but the quotidian backend, too: the job interviews, the forms to fill out, the pauses to adjust a camera angle. It’s how the sausage gets made before it gets sucked.
Of course, you can’t make a movie about the dirty-movie business without provoking in the audience thoughts of Boogie Nights. So why not embrace it? Director and co-writer Elliott casts Heather Graham as a lesbian cougar (that hoariest of cliches), a director guiding this young blond newcomer (Ashley Hinshaw) as though molding a 21st-century Roller Girl. Unlike Paul Thomas Anderson’s film, though, this is no epic American historical tragedy (though it has titties and James Franco as Cherry’s wealthy, coked-up paramour, which are not nothing); it’s just the story of one girl’s unexceptional relationship dramas and family disapprovals—her crises of conscience over whether making porn makes her bad, over whether she can indulge her sexual desires and not be fucking evil. Admire the feminist moral, though: the film suggests she can.
Opens September 21