Dramatic films taking place around the porn industry—let us retire those ridiculous code word “adult films”—tend to highlight the hollow and despairing aspect, while About Cherry sets out to demystify the fuck-flicks business. “Cherry” is the screen name of Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw), who escapes a Laundromat job and a hellish home life in Long Beach to move with her lapdog best friend (Dev Patel) to San Francisco, where she finds work at a relatively genteel fetish-video company where Heather Graham, Boogie Nights’ Rollergirl, works behind the camera. About Cherry is itself handled in unostentatious style by first-time director Stephen Elliott, an author whose works include a collection of bondage stories, who co-wrote the script with a performer/director veteran of San Francisco’s smut scene, Lorelei Lee. With such a pedigree, one might expect something pretty hot from About Cherry, but the on-set scenes are inevitably sanitized, while Hinshaw’s performance keeps Angelina’s actual desire quite vague, undertaking no discernible journey of sexual self-discovery. People near Angelina, outside the industry but trapped in their own prisons, only reveal their own insecurities in their reactions to her job—everything is seen as healthy and well-regulated, and sex work leads not toward damnation but to mature relationships and farmers’ market trips. Setting out to reassure that certain decisions do not necessarily have fatal consequences for one’s sexual morality, though, About Cherry only manages to seem inconsequential.
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