Film Review by Kam Williams
Naive Runaway Turns Porn Star in Cautionary Tale of Survival
Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) is a naïve, 18 year-old with a blossoming body but a horrible home situation. Between a predatory stepfather (Stephen Wiig) with a creepy agenda and an alcoholic mother (Lili Taylor) too inebriated to protect her, it’s just a matter of time before the poor girl has to vacate the premises.
Unfortunately, she proceeds to follow a lot of bad advice, starting with her boyfriend’s (Jonny Weston) pressure to pose naked for pay. Although initially hesitant, the clueless coed goes along with the idea, unaware that nude photo spreads are apparently the adult entertainment industry’s equivalent of a gateway drug to utter depravity.
The next thing you now, she’s dropping out of high school and running away from L.A. to San Francisco with a Platonic pal (Dev Patel) who worships her. They rent an apartment together, with him landing a legitimate job at a bookstore while she finds work at a seedy strip club.
Soon thereafter, Angelina not only starts dating a customer (James Franco) but is recruited to appear in X-rated movies by a very-reassuring, retired porn star (Heather Graham). She adopts a stage name, “Cherry,” and takes to performing sex acts in front of the camera like a fish to water, gradually graduating from soft porn to ever-increasingly salacious fare.
Not surprisingly, this development takes a toll on her personal relationships, as both her new beau (“What you do is disgusting!”) and secret admirer roommate (“I’m just a foreigner you keep around to run errands!”) eventually express their displeasure. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the trajectory of Angelina/Cherry’s life has to turn tragic, especially when there’s an empathetic lipstick lesbian waiting in the wings on the set of her latest explicit adventure.
Directed by Stephen Elliott, About Cherry’s optimistic arc might be explained by the fact that he co-wrote the script with Lorelei Lee, a popular porn star-turned-NYU college lecturer. Lorelei’s literary imprimatur lends considerable credibility to this presumably semi-autobiographical soap opera, since it would otherwise be impossible to fathom how the picture’s terminally-suggestible protagonist wasn’t left devastated by such a self-destructive string of degrading choices.
Pollyanna does ‘Frisco!
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, profanity and drug use.
Running time: 102 minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
To see a trailer for About Cherry, visit: