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Cherish (December 24/02)

Robin Tunney's big break came several years ago, with The Craft - a mediocre movie about witches that nevertheless allowed her to shine. Since then, she's been unable to find a role in a movie that wasn't weak in some way; her performance as a victim of turret's syndrome in Niagara, Niagara was literally the best thing about that movie. Unfortunately, with Cherish, she's stuck in the same rut.

Tunney stars as Zoe, a flighty and quirky girl who's working a cubicle job and pining after a handsome co-worker named Andrew (Jason Priestley). The two get to talking at an office party and seem to hit it off, but after going to her car to retrieve something, Zoe is accosted by a suspicious man. He forces her into the car, and the two drive off - even though Zoe is quite drunk by this point. After Zoe accidentally runs over (and kills) a cop, she's arrested and the strange guy is nowhere to be found. Her lawyer (played by Nora Dunn) manages to keep Zoe from going to prison before the trial, and instead has her placed under house arrest. She is moved into a spacious flat and has a bracelet attached to her leg that'll let the authorities know if she tries to leave the apartment. Daly (Tim Blake Nelson), the man assigned to Zoe, finds himself curiously drawn to her.

Cherish opens with a spectacular sequence that, unfortunately, sets unrealistic standards for the rest of the movie. With The Association's Cherish playing in the background, the camera glides through Zoe's office and introduces us to the people in her life. It's not often that a popular song (well, it was popular back in the day) is paired so seamlessly with images, so it didn't seem unreasonable to expect a lot out of the film. And while the majority of the movie is filled with similarly impressive visuals, the story just isn't dense enough to maintain interest for over 90 minutes.

Once Zoe moves into the loft, the film becomes (essentially) a series of wacky vignettes featuring her reaction to the various characters and situations that now surround her. Some of this stuff is kind of interesting (such as Zoe's relationship with the anal-retentive Daly), but a lot of it is superfluous and feels like padding. There's this whole subplot following Zoe's attempts to climb to the top of her building without being caught that never really goes anywhere, but does add about 10 minutes to the runtime. And that's the problem, really; a lot of elements feel like they've been thrown in for that reason and that reason alone. Cherish would've worked a lot better had it been a short film.

Still, Tunney's performance allows for a certain level of interest to be maintained, and it was definitely a treat seeing Nelson play something other than a doofus. But the movie never quite lives up to their performances, substituting quirkiness for story.

out of

© David Nusair