Warning: spoilers for The Russo Brothers’ Cherry are in play. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, and want to remain spoiler free, this isn’t the place for you.
“Sometimes I feel like I’ve already seen everything that’s gonna happen. And it’s a nightmare.” Tom Holland’s protagonist in The Russo Brothers’ film Cherry drops this very line throughout the events of this dark and tragic tale of a young man who comes home from war, and spirals into criminal and narcotic coping mechanisms. By the time we get to the grand finale though, almost 20 years have passed since the beginning of the film’s narrative, leaving Cherry’s ending as an upbeat coda after a dark path of action led to a crucial moment of change.
But were things always fated to happen that way? Could Cherry’s semi-autobiographical chain of events have turned out differently, and without the tragedies that happened along the way? Everything hinged on one big moment in the story, and if that occurrence turned out differently, things could have diverged rather greatly. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the ending of Cherry, the hinge point that kicked it all off, and how things might have turned out differently.
What Happened At The End Of Cherry?
College sweethearts Cherry (Tom Holland) and Emily (Ciara Bravo) meet in 2002, as they share a class, and ultimately a relationship, on campus. All too eager to ditch his seemingly unfaithful girlfriend at the time, Cherry falls hard for Emily and it leads to their relationship, and eventually their marriage. It also causes one great downward spiral, as his love for Emily sees ups and downs, addiction and PTSD dictating the terms of that rocky course.
Everything comes to a head in 2007, when during a robbery, Cherry tells the teller to hit the alarm. Shooting up what looks like one last time, he collapses on the street, waiting for the cops to apprehend him. Cherry goes away until 2021, and we see him get clean and become a model prisoner. Eventually, upon his release, Cherry and Emily reunite, and he smiles as he’s finally free to continue his new path in life.
The Moment That Started The Long, Dark Path Of Cherry
Before he redeemed himself though, Cherry first had to fall. And that collapse started when Emily made the impulsive decision that she wanted to go to school in Canada. While a short notice decision, it’s not that decision that ruins Cherry’s future, but rather it’s his own choice to enlist in the Army, as a result of said decision. With his friend Joe (Michael Gandolfini) enlisting in the Marines around the same time, because he wants a change in life, one can assume that this was another contributing factor for Cherry’s life change. Eventually, Emily reconsiders her decision, but already committed to the Army, Cherry goes to war anyway.
After seeing all of the death and carnage a person can get their hands on, Cherry comes home from the war with a horrible case of PTSD. This prompts his diving into increasingly harder drugs to cope. He starts with Xanax, but eventually, moves on to Heroin. To feed his habit, he eventually steals a huge supply of drugs entrusted to him by Pills and Coke (Jack Reynor,) and needs to pay off that debt, on top of feeding two habits. Emily has gradually become addicted Cherry’s drugs of choice as well, and that stuff isn’t cheap.
Thanks to Cherry’s really impulsive decision to join the army, his life and Emily’s are sent down the dark path above. Which, ultimately, ends with Cherry’s string of robberies that lead to his incarceration for almost two decades. But could Cherry and Emily’s love have pursued a smoother course if he hadn’t gone to war?
Could Cherry Have Ended Differently?
The decisions of Emily and Cherry turned the tide of Cherry’s storyline. So there’s a chance that the slightest difference may have helped keep the lovers happy and healthy; or at least closer to those very goals without the aid of heavy narcotics. Let’s weigh the case of whether or not things would have changed, had Cherry not decided to go to war.
Yes, Because The War Was The Root Of Cherry’s Major Issues
If Cherry doesn’t see its title character go to war, he doesn’t see the horrors of death and combat. Cherry wouldn’t have lost a friend, underwent military training, and overall wouldn’t have seen himself fall under the rigors of PTSD. With Cherry bypassing the PTSD in its story, it’s to be assumed that its antihero doesn’t turn to drugs.
The relationship between Cherry and Emily would presumably still be intact, especially since she reversed her decision to go to Canada. This further branches into the scenario where Cherry and Emily don’t turn to any drugs harder than the stuff they partied on with their friends. They may have still fought, but they would have been cleaner than they were under the current circumstances in Cherry.
No, Because Drugs Were Always In The Picture With Cherry
Even in his carefree college days, Cherry’s protagonist, his girlfriend, and his friends, were all involved with drugs. So even before the huge hinge point decision to go into military service came up, the culture of their Cleveland-based ecosystem was always dealing with economic downturn, and the drugs that were supposed to help cope with such struggles.
Not to mention, even if Cherry didn’t go into the military, his friend Joe still went to war, and came back with his own problems. Swimming in that same social circle may have destined Cherry’s central couple to those very problems, or at the very least, may have seen Cherry fall under their spell. But seeing as the only reason Emily did drugs is that she needed to cope with Cherry’s failure to cope in a healthy manner, odds are the couple would have still fallen together.
Cherry’s odd premonition of seeing where everything was going might have been fulfilled, no matter whether he went to war or not. Fully admitting that he took things to heart is a major piece of the structure to his Cherry character. One way or another, his relationship with Emily might have broken down, and Cherry might have gotten into drugs as a result.
Of course, that’s a matter of opinion, and the events of Cherry might differ, depending on who’s observing them. So let us know what you think in the poll below, provided you’ve already seen Cherry at a theater near you, or streaming on Apple TV+.