In Apple TV Plus’ new drama “Cherry,” Tom Holland’s life is spiraling out of control. Holland plays Cherry, a war veteran who suffers from PTSD and descends into an opioid addiction. He also falls in love with Emily, played by Ciara Bravo.
Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, who also shot “Da 5 Bloods,” explains the film “has very distinct chapters. Each one of those chapters has its vocabulary,” and Sigel relied on different lenses to create that look.
From magic realism, when Cherry sees Emily and falls in love, to documentary homages, Sigel discusses two scenes from the film and how he captured Cherry at different moments in his downward spiral.
Robbing the Bank/Emily
Early in the film, we have a teaser of what we will later learn is Cherry’s last robbery. In that robbery, he goes into a bank and as he approaches the teller and pulls a gun out.
For a moment, he has an imaginary moment where he thinks about life if he hadn’t gone down that road and he could have been in love.
That internal journey is expressed in the bank with the light in the background going away. The rest of the bank vanishes into the darkness, and it transitions back in time to when he first met Emily in the classroom at college.
When he first sees Emily, he sees her in a similar moment of internal fantasy the way that he is looking at that bank teller in the previous shot.
She’s lit and she’s glowing, while the rest of the world has had sort of faded into oblivion. As he’s fantasizing, the lights slowly come up, the viewer realizes the reverie is broken.
It was a very subjective internal fantasy moment. That’s a visual expression of his one true love, and the movie is ultimately a love story.
Cherry Joins the Army
Cherry joins the army, and he goes off to war. And it’s this experience that sets him on that irreversible path, which eventually leads to his PTSD and drug addiction.
For this section of the film, I drew on a documentary flavor. A lot of the influence here came from my own experiences. I was guided by the action and the Iraq section as we call it, is a nod to documentary filmmaking.
The first half and the last third of the movie were all shot using Todd AO Anamorphic lenses which were first developed in the ‘50s and modified in the ‘70s. They were developed by Mike Todd who was trying to promote a certain widescreen exhibition format that never took off, but the lenses survived.
Those lenses have a romantic and distinct look with a lot of character.
But for this section, I switched to using still lenses that used to be used by journalists before the digital age. They’re clean, classic, and not harsh, with a nod to journalistic photography.