Cherish

| July 1, 2002

After watching the movie Cherish I was at a loss for the significance of the title. I could not come up with an explanation why director, Finn Taylor, would choose the word ‘cherish’ as the title for his movie. It occurred to me today while I was at the lake. I gazed around me at all the sordid examples of humanity that congregate at Michigan lakes and I thought, “I cherish every moment I spend in this ridiculous state.” I went home and looked up the word in www.dictionary.com and found this meaning and understood,
Cherish
Tr.v. cher-ished, cher-ish-ing,.
1. To keep fondly in mind; entertain.
Cherish is a painfully claustrophobic look at the life of Zoe (Robin Tunney – Vertical Limit), a depressing loser with a penchant for fantasy. This movie had me roaring one moment and biting my nails in fear and anticipation the next. Many times when a director chooses to genre jump as much as Finn does it fails to be a cohesive film. This was not a problem with Cherish. It is a film that moves solidly from comedy to suspense to character study with ease. I never felt jolted by the film but rather moved at a nice steady pace realizing pieces of Zoe’s character slowly and methodically, making her seem honest and credible.
I was thrilled with the pace at which Finn exposed us to the person that is Zoe. She is not merely your obviously nerdy office worker whom people hate. He gave the impression at the beginning of the film she was going to be the cool, sassy office worker similar to Parker Posey in Clockwatchers. She struts into the office, dressed fine, listening to some cool music on her Walkman, moving towards her cubicle. A disgustingly small cubicle I may add! I have no idea how a company expects a creative person like Zoe, who is a graphic designer, to work in a pen-like environment. I have to admit I was afraid at the beginning that this film was going to be nothing more than a remake of 9to5. I slumped in my chair as my companion, K-boogie who also works in an office without windows, ranted about the size of Zoe’s cubicle.
Within moments I knew I was wrong about this film.
After a night of drinking at a bar Zoe hits a police officer and kills him with her car. She had been held captive in the car by her stalker and forced to drive. When she hits the cop, the psycho flees. She is instantly arrested and as her story is unbelievable, she is placed under house arrest. Thereafter, the movie becomes this type of tragic pull between thriller and character study, yet surprisingly works!! Zoe is trapped in her apartment and because of this is forced to spend time with herself, helping her to become okay with herself and in the process figure out who the mysterious stalker is.
Ms. Liz Phair froze the screen as the cold office worker who treats Zoe like shit on the bottom of her shoe. We were introduced to her and almost immediately realized Zoe was not the cool person I initially thought but the pathetic loser in the office pool of humanity.
K-boogie recognized the fabulous Liz Phair long before I did. I thought she looked familiar but K punched my arm – HARD – and yelled, “THAT is Liz Phair” and indeed it was. She was fabulously bitchy in every scene she was in. In particular, she shines as the beotch extraordinaire when Zoe’s stalker calls over and over again trying to get Ms. Phair to tell her Zoe’s current whereabouts. She coldly hangs up on him, finally blocking his calls altogether throwing the psycho into a well…psychotic rage. It was great to watch.
There was a subtle intensity and eccentricity to every scene with this film. Even if the characters in the scene were wonderfully, and sometimes pathetically, normal the scene itself would render them freakish. Take for example the scene when Zoe calls the delivery food service requesting a specific delivery boy. He arrives and they slow dance to some great music but he is squirmy and wanting to get away. Zoe is way overdressed for simply waiting for the grocery delivery boy and therefore throws the whole scene into creepy mode, Blue Velvet creepy. I loved it.
The fast cuts in the editing helped with the frantic, unsettled feeling of the film. I just wished they had cut more out of the film, as it was too long. There was a lot of material that was beyond unnecessary and quite frankly was not needed. For instance, toward the dramatic end we see the gay, Jewish dwarf from downstairs attempt to protect Zoe from her stalker. While a sad moment as we see him get his head cracked with a bat, it was pretty much unnecessary. This is the type of stuff the audience could have done without.
The weakest part of this movie was the love story. I have to admit I almost always find love in the movies unrealistic and boring, unless it is Betty Blue-type love and it very rarely is. Cherish was no different in it’s unrealistic and ultimately irritating love plotline than the hundreds of Hollywood love stories before it. Zoe does nothing in this film that would make her “keeper”, played subtly by Tim Blake Nelson, fall in love with her and therefore this whole subplot seems unlikely. Although has anyone noticed that Tim Blake Nelson, known recently for his performance in O Brother Where for Art Thou? is creepingly similar in appearance to Earnest from the ‘Earnest’ movies? It was unsettling for me.
The music is made up of mediocre tunes from the 80’s and I loved every last one of them!! I haven’t seen music used this well since Trainspotting. I’m buying the cd as soon as it is cool enough to leave my fan.
As a film this is not the most groundbreaking, cohesive or innovative I have seen, but I feel the same way about it as I do about my peculiar, odd and strangely comforting Michiganders, I cherish them. I keep them and this film fondly in mind.

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