Sunday, 16 April 2017

THE LEIGH SPENCE MOMENT: CHERRY 2000


28. “Have the girls fix some sandwiches.”



16/04/2017




At the start of this film, we are reminded that it is “An Orion Pictures Release,” which is charitable of them: “Cherry 2000” finished production in December 1985 for an August 1986 release, which was pushed back to March 1987, then September 1987, before finally being released, direct to video, in November 1988. This is the lot of many films, especially when there are many more places now to shove a difficult film than ever before.

“Cherry 2000,” however, should not have had this fate. It is a post-apocalyptic, science-fiction, romantic-ish comedy thriller: there is not much that isn’t covered by that kind of description. However, because it is all of those things, and not just one of them, it became too difficult to market – it was impossible to compare the film to “Blade Runner,” as that film was languishing in pre-Director’s Cut obscurity at the time. Therefore, “Cherry 2000” was squeezed out on VHS. Instead.

Why is it worth watching at all? It is comparable with “Blade Runner,” and it compares favourably, taking place in a dystopian, grungy, neon-tinged night-time, even if it also goes by way of a Wild West version of “Mad Max.” The post-apocalyptic landscape has pockets of relatively normal-looking civilisation, but society’s relationship with itself has changed: in an increasingly sexualised and bureaucratic climate, sex involves drawing up a contract first, so men taking androids for wives is increasingly commonplace.


“Cherry” is an android whose body has malfunctioned, leading to her “husband,” Sam, on a journey to a factory, located in one of the lawless areas of the US, to find a replacement. Cherry’s personality and memory spends the intervening time on what looks like a dictaphone, inviting comparisons with Spike Jonze’s “Her,” while Sam crosses the land with Edith, a human female sherpa-like tracker. Edith is played by a bright-red-haired Melanie Griffith, in one of her earliest starring roles.

Edith is just about the only female character in the film that isn’t an android, and her presence makes her the star, as she is the only one not to have been made to be controlled by men – as a result, she is also the only character not to have been driven by desire.  When the final escape is made at the end of the film, Edith is the one that makes the altruistic decision to save the couple, and it is her humanity that means she is the one that is ultimately saved – I am trying not to giveaway the ending, but you do hope it is the healthier relationship that wins.

“Cherry 2000” was undeniably made from a male point of view but, thankfully, it is a male fantasy that plays against itself – the use of androids for substitute relationships is shown as convenient, if not entirely wrong, and the rejection of this is still saving the male lead from himself.

Melanie Griffith is undeniably the star of “Cherry 2000,” and justifiably received an Oscar nomination, and won a Golden Globe, the following year – for “Working Girl,” the romantic comedy she made while waiting for it to be released.

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