Russo Brothers on Tom Holland, Its Unique Style, and More

If you only know Joe and Anthony Russo from their Marvel films like Avengers: Infinity War, and only know Tom Holland from his Marvel role as Spider-Man in Marvel films like, um, Avengers: Infinity War, then their upcoming film Cherry might leave you not feeling so good. Coming to Apple TV+ on March 12, 2021, the film stars Holland as a PTSD-suffering veteran who returns home to deal with opioid addiction, financial destitution, and the eventual descent into bank robbery madness. Peter Parker would blush!

During the Russo Brothers’ CCXP panel moderated by Collider’s Steve Weintraub, in which they spoke about current and upcoming projects being developed by their AGBO production banner, we discovered just how bold and experimental this film will feel. aAnd just how good of a performance Holland gives. As Joe Russo put it: “I just have to say Holland’s performance in the film is exceptional. He absolutely shreds himself in the movie.” Anthony Russo agreed, saying that the film ultimately rests on the strengths of his stars Holland and Ciara Bravo, the love of Holland’s life, and the depth of their relationship:

“At the heart of the movie is this relationship between two people. Even though the film is about coming-of-age and it’s a love story and it’s a war film and it’s a bank robbery film and it’s a drug addiction film, it’s a big mélange of a lot of complicated life experiences. But the heart of it is the love story. The heart of it is the relationship between the characters played by Tom and Ciara. That was what we hung the entire emotional arc of the film on. For as complicated as things get, for as desperate as things get, the one thing that remains in the film and that remains for the characters is the connection that they have with one another. And how they can rely upon that to move forward despite very daunting circumstances.”

Ciara Bravo and Tom Holland in Cherry
Image via Apple TV+

So how will the Russos render Holland and Bravo’s performances, all in service of a story with “very challenging subject matter,” as Joe Russo puts it? With the sensitivity and classical stylizations you might expect from a traditional prestige film? Absolutely… not.

Joe Russo continued that with this film, like they did with even their biggest Marvel films, “we make very personal choices. We pick projects that excite us… we collected comic books as kids and we were very passionate about big pop culture entertainment, but we’re also very passionate about smaller, more challenging stories. We grew up on auteur ’70s filmmakers just like everyone else who loves filmmaking, and this is a movie that really embraces style and tone in very unique ways.” He further elaborated on these tonal and stylistic flourishes and how they make up Cherry‘s structure:

“The film is about [Holland’s] life cycle. It’s about a 15-year life cycle. And it’s broken into chapters where each chapter is shot almost as if it was a different film, but they’re all connected in a way. But there’s a gonzo element to it… there’s magical realism in one chapter and then absurdism and then brutal realism and then horror and then dark humor, so it really covers a wide scope of experience both for the character and for the audience. Each chapter we made very distinct cinematic choices from costume to performance to lenses to the style of camerawork to the way the camera moves to music. It’s hopefully not a jarring shift for the audience, but it does move and take you places that you’re not expecting from chapter to chapter. And when you put it all together as a whole, hopefully you get a surprising and unique moviegoing experience.”

This sounds episodic, interesting, and somewhat Natural Born Killers-esque in its construction! What inspired the Russo Brothers to tackle this story in this way in the first place? For Joe Russo, it was personal: “We have had people very close to us die because of this crisis. We have people who are still struggling with recovery who are very close to us. So this was a very personal film for us to make, and the value and the benefit of working on movies of Marvel’s scale is that it allows you to use your brand capital to get difficult subject matter made.”

Cherry comes to Apple TV+ March 12, 2021. Click here for all the new images.

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