A review of  Cherish” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for language, adult situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

 

 

Don’t let the posters fool you.  “Cherish” belies its advertised image as a sexy, pop cultural romp to focus on the quirky nature of fantasy and alienation.

Zoe Adler (Robin Tunney) lives in a whimsical world all her own.  She moves through her mundane computer programming job in a dreamlike state, headphones continuously blasting out the soothing rhythms of silly love songs.  Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” and 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love” are Zoe’s solace for a perpetually broken heart and relentless lonely nights.

A tragic misunderstanding changes the landscape. Zoe is accosted while exiting a local night club; forced at gunpoint to drive her car at excessive speeds through the dark San Francisco streets.  When the car accidentally strikes and kills a police officer, Zoe is sentenced to house arrest and incarcerated in the electronic bracelet program.  For two years Zoe is to be imprisoned in her funky, SF loft, periodically checking in with the powers that be but facing an extreme form of isolation.

Determined to prove her innocence, Zoe sets out to nail the carjacking creep who has subsequently discovered her whereabouts and has the audacity to be stalking her. She masterminds an intricate strategy of escape, enlisting the help of the neighborhood misfits and the reluctant deputy officer (Tim Blake Nelson as Daly) who serves as her primary social worker.

“Cherish” is on the cusp of being too weird to work.  An odd combination of fierce resolve and crushing boredom establish an uneven pitch that doesn’t always finding its footing.  Charm saves the day - in Tunney’s performance as a young woman of low self-worth who refuses to become a victim of the system, and in Zoe’s surprisingly unlikely romance with unattractive sad-sack Daly. The improbable relationship that develops (in tiny baby steps) has a thrilling, clandestine aura that’s hard to resist.  Pop soundtrack (Hall and Oates, Human League, Terry Jacks, etc.) is a player unto itself, serving as a constant reminder of the quirky irony of life and living.