Some movies you want to hug, just to reward how a film makes you feel and what magic it is when a setting, a character, a star and a story sing together in near perfect harmony.
“Cherry” is an indie dramedy with a simple problem with no easy, unconsidered solution, a charmer with a message that could not have come along at a more perfect time.
It’s about an aimless, carefree 20something Angelena, a street magician and balloon artist who lures customers into a vintage costume shop. One day Cherry shows up for work, ducks into the bathroom and pees on a stick.
Our heroine, the leggy embodiment of the “roller girl” in Dire Straits’ famed music video “Skateaway,” is pregnant. Enchante, honey. What can I say?
“Cherry” takes us through the longest weekend in a manic pixie dream girl’s life. She’s fired for being perpertually late and irresponsible at work, can’t reach her “least effective contraception method” boyfriend to get his reaction, and only through begging, lying and imitating a British tourist can she get into the just-closed free clinic to confirm the test.
Right from the start, director and co-writer Sophie Galibert treats this subject seriously but gently. California is still a “my body, my choice” state. But Cherry, given a winsome ditziness by Alex Trewhitt, is plainly not adult enough to make this decision.
“What would you do?” she asks the doctor (Sandy Duarte), who is…pregnant.
The doctor gets it. “It’s not on our bucket list of things to do in life,” not at Cherry’s age and maturity.
Their conversation is professional, compassionate and despite Cherry’s “I just never thought this would be me” cluelessness, touching, even more so in light of American conservatives’ ongoing war on women and reproductive rights.
“Can I see it?” Show her the sonogram. “What’s it sound like in there?”
As light as it plays on the surface, “Cherry” gets at the momentous, wrenching nature of this “decision” right from the start. She’s far enough along that she has just a weekend to decide if she wants to come back and buy a pill.
She has to talk to the boyfriend (Dan Schultz), and maybe to her mother (Angela Nicholas). It’s Mother’s Day weekend, wouldn’t you know it?
But Galibert and co-writer Arthur Cohen’s script teases out the “news,” finding ways and reasons the childish Cherry can’t tell one and all. Her grandmother (Melinda DeKay) has dementia. Maybe she can keep a secret.
Miraculously, granny has great insights to share, even as she doesn’t realize it. First she, then Cherry’s mom give hints of the life paths not taken thanks to unexpected pregnancies. We even meet Cherry’s divorced, struggling and somewhat absent father (Charlie S. Jensen).
Will she tell any of them? Will they break her or our hearts with their take on the real cost of parenthood in a corner of the world where people still have control over when that happens?
Galibert, Trewhitt and a very good supporting cast conjure up a tale that amiably skates through a jolting moment in any life, not just those still figuring out who and what they are and want to be.
The serious scenes are broken up with chuckles as Cherry tries to rejoin the party-entertainment skate team she was in, struggles to keep her secret and strains to find creative ways to reveal it to those who matter to her.
The magic of this light, almost slight film is that everyone, even those who don’t know, have something to tell her, something to teach and something for all of us to consider about the biggest decision anyone can make — parenthood.
Rating: unrated, adult subject matter, profanity
Cast: Alex Trewhitt, Sandy Duarte, Dan Schultz, Angela Nicholas and Charlie S. Jensen
Credits: Directed by Sophie Galibert, scripted by Arthur Cohen and Sophie Galibert. An Entertainment Squad release.
Running time: 1:16