• Thu, Jul 26 2012

James Franco Finally Plays Someone Other Than Himself In The Coming-Of-Age Porn Star Trailer About Cherry

Over the past year, I’d say, we’ve seen James Franco represent variations of or meta commentaries on himself in film, soap opera, and art. But with the release of the trailer for About Cherry – the tale of a young woman who dives into the world of porn in San Francisco — I feel like Franco is returning to the kinds of roles we know him for: The hot, successful, probably manipulative older guy who knows exactly how to make you fall for him and then how to disappear when he’s no longer interested. In About Cherry he’s a lawyer, and yet he doesn’t seem at all bothered that his young love interest Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) has sex on-camera for money.

I’ve been hearing about this movie — originally titled just Cherry – for a while since I’m from Marin County and have at least one friend who’s worked on the set. But it looks like it’s nearing release now, as part of the IFC Midnight series. I knew that Heather Graham was involved, but I’m impressed that they cast her as a former porn actress-turned-director who sees a little of herself in this rising star when she says things like “You’re a work of art.”

Because these kinds of movies have to represent both ends of the spectrum, Angelina’s other love interest is her platonic best friend who obviously has been carrying a torch for her but will be devastated when he learns how she makes a living. Dev Patel takes time off from ranting about Bigfoot on The Newsroom to hug and mope and judge.

CinemaBlend points out that writer-director Stephen Elliot is a former sex worker, so his aim is less to titillate and more to challenge society’s prejudices about sexuality and pornography. However, IndieWire reports that the story lags and becomes tiresomely melodramatic: “While the character’s motives make sense, the movie as a whole struggles to understand them, setting Cherry on a downward slope to mediocrity and half-formed storytelling where even the supposedly enervating sex lacks any hint of joy.” And they didn’t love Franco’s “sleepy-eyed,” “hollow” character.

About Cherry is available on Video On Demand starting August 9th, with a movie theater release date of September 21st.

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