2023, NR, 77 min. Directed by Sophie Galibert. Starring Alex Trewhitt, Dan Schultz, Sandy Duarte, Hannah Alline, Joe Sachem, Alice Bang.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., April 28, 2023

It's a depressing fact of American life that it's currently impossible for a film about abortion to not be political. But it is more than possible for the politics to be implicit, rather than explicit, and to take a back seat to other aspects of the story: the personal, the practical, the emotional, the medical, and even the humorous.

That's the approach that filmmaker Sophie Galibert takes in Cherry, a deeply charming, funny, quirky, and intimate story of a woman faced with making quick decisions about a highly unexpected pregnancy. Well, maybe not that unexpected: As Cherry (Trewhitt) tells her OBGYN, her boyfriend pulls out most of the time, so this was never off the table. With the California deadline for medication abortion looming, she has a weekend to work out whether she's ready, or interested in, becoming a mother right now.

It's an impactful decision, one that is clearly and constantly depicted as Cherry's choice. At the same time Trewhitt isn't interested in portraying her a wilting flower waiting to bloom into motherhood, or a hard-nosed pragmatist making a calculated pros-and-cons list. Instead, she's a 25-year-old who is already trying to work out what to do with her life, and this is just another decision on the pile. Flaky, flighty, unreliable, barely employed (as shown in some delightfully wry scenes with Joe Sachem as her exasperated but good-natured toy store-owning boss), she has perfect bad timing and a refined ability to roll over other people's emotions. Whether it's suddenly thinking she can just lace up her skates and be part of the jam skate squad run by her erstwhile best friend, Jess (Alice Bang), or just torpedo her family's plans on – of course – mother's day weekend, or drop this bombshell on her roller rink DJ boyfriend (Schultz) in the most misguidedly cutesy way possible, Cherry can't help but spread a little disaster.

Trewhitt presents a fascinating pairing with Galibert. The French director's feature debut, and only her fourth English-language project, Cherry is lo-fi and conversational, set in a recognizable L.A. where barely making it and getting your biggish break are a weekend apart. It never feels like a big issue movie, mainly because it retains that charming intimacy, powered by Trewhitt's lackadaisical charm. The camera never leaves her side, and it's easy to see why Gailbert trusted her lead to give a truly rounded existence to a woman forced on many fronts to acknowledge that her extended adolescence is officially overstretched.

In the immediate post-Roe era, any discussion of abortion is going to be timely. But what gives Cherry life beyond this moment is that central idea of facing change, and realizing that not making a decision is in itself a decision. There's something heartwarming in it being less important what choice Cherry makes than in watching her try to make it for the right reasons.

Cherry is available on VOD now.

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Cherry, Sophie Galibert, Alex Trewhitt, Dan Schultz, Sandy Duarte, Hannah Alline, Joe Sachem, Alice Bang

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