"Cherish" is an odd, mostly entertaining film that's hard to classify. While it's not without some issues, it's certainly original and well-acted, not to mention made with enjoyable style, if not always a grasp of what the film's trying to go for. The film stars Robin Tunney, an attractive actress with talent and presence who has found herself a part of some pretty lousy projects in recent years ("End of Days", "Vertical Limit" and, I almost forgot, "Supernova"). "Cherish" has her playing frumpy and lonely, but she still manages to be cute and charming, nonetheless.
Tunney stars as Zoe Adler, a mousey computer animator who goes out each night to get out of the house and not be alone. One night in a bar, she has a dance with her co-worker (Jason Priestley), who she's attracted to. After having one too many drinks, she heads out to her car and is confronted by an attacker, who forces her to drive. When she struggles, the car accidentally hits a police officer. While the attacker escapes, Zoe doesn't and is arrested for a crime she didn't commit.
She's locked up in an apartment away from her home to await trial, looked over by a technican named Bill (Tim Blake Nelson) who checks up on her ankle braclet. The middle of the movie largely takes place in the sparse apartment that Tunney's character finds herself locked up in. The result isn't as much focused on providing a story as it is offering something of a one-woman show for the generally underrated actress. Zoe glams herself up, plays jokes on local kids and occasionally interacts with her dwarf downstairs neighbor or Blake Nelson's character.
While all of these things are occasionally involving, "Cherish" needs something more inspired than having Zoe dump water on the neighborhood kids a few times. However, the scenes with Tim Blake Nelson and Tunney are surprisingly good, given that they seem like two pretty dissimilar actors. "Cherish" works as well as it does entirely due to the performances. Tunney is smart and resourceful, while Blake Nelson does pretty well with a limited role. In an uncredited performance, a legion of 80's pop tunes also becomes another character in the film.
While the middle of the film simply offers its ups and downs, it's the last act of the film that really heads into unexpected territory. While up until that point the film simply seemed an offbeat mix of comedy and drama, it suddenly turns into a thriller as Zoe hunts down the stalker responsible for getting her into deep trouble. The film is a bit too small and low-key to smoothly handle this kind of transition and the kind of explanations it provides to bypass some plot holes are not sufficent. "Cherish" has some moments, but it should have stuck to its subdued mix of drama and comedy instead of trying to be too many things in one rather short film.
VIDEO: "Cherish" is presented by New Line Home Entertainment in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame. Both are included on the same side of a dual-layer disc and are accessible from the main menu. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is another fine effort from New Line. While a low-budget indie with limited locations and visuals, the presentation still manages to clearly present the film with only a few limited faults. Sharpness and detail are pretty standard; the picture looks generally quite crisp and well-defined, with the exception of a few minor scenes that seem slightly soft in comparison.
There are a few minor faults scattered throughout the presentation, but I didn't find them particularly bothersome. No noticable edge enhancement was seen, while only a trace of pixelation was noticed in one darker scene. The print seemed to be in excellent condition, aside from a few minor specks and some light grain. The film's color palette tended to veer towards the subdued side, but looked accurate and crisply rendered, with no smearing.
SOUND: "Cherish" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack isn't half bad, as the 80's tunes on the soundtrack are nicely reinforced by the surrounds. Other than the music, there's really little for the surrounds to do, as the settings really don't make for any opportunities for sound effects or even much ambience. Audio quality varies a bit, as some of the songs sound a bit fuzzier than the others.
Commentary: Although the box only lists a commentary from director Finn Taylor, actress Robin Tunney and cinematographer Barry Stone join the director on this track. It's definitely a fun commentary, as Taylor and Tunney joke about what happened on set and talk about their feelings in regard to how the final film turned out. Cinematographer Stone provides some great information about the technical details in regards to locations and how the look of the film was achieved.
Deleted Scenes: The DVD provides two deleted scenes (one of which is an alternate ending) with no optional commentary. The alternate ending isn't much and the one in the final film certainly works better.
Also: An eighteen-minute featurette provides plenty of interviews with the cast and crew, along with a fair amount of behind-the-scenes footage. Thankfully, the featurette is more concerned about being informative than spending its time telling the story. A trailer for the film (1.85:1/DD 5.1) is also included, but oddly enough, no trailers for the other NL art-film titles coming out around the same time (Invisible Circus/Human Nature) are offered.
Final Thoughts: "Cherish" succeeds as well as it does largely thanks to Tunney's solid performance, but it would have been better if it had been more focused and some of the plot holes had been worked out. New Line's DVD edition provides good audio/video, not to mention a very enjoyable commentary. Maybe worth a rental for those who are fans of the actors or looking for an offbeat film that attempts - but doesn't always succeed - in mixing a lot of different elements together.
The Film ** 1/2