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Harrowing Russo brothers film 'Cherry' arriving on Apple TV+ in March 2021

Credit: Apple TV+

"Cherry," a harrowing Russo brothers film following a bank-robbing opiate-addicted soldier is coming to Apple TV+ on March 12, 2021.

Apple acquired the rights to "Cherry" back in September. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Nico Walker and starring Holland and Ciara Bravo, "Cherry" is set to hit theaters on Feb. 26, 2021 before premiering globally on Apple TV+ on March 12.

In a first look by Vanity Fair, directors Anthony and Joe Russo shared some of the background and inspiration for the film — their first since the finale of "Avengers."

Holland's title character is described as "both volatile and vulnerable." He's a former Army medic who starts abusing opioids to blunt a severe case of PTSD. To pay for the drugs, he starts robbing banks.

"We do think about it as an epic film, and it is very much a person's life journey," Anthony Russo said. "But it does have a little bit of a split personality between being this character study and an epic life cycle."

The two directors described "Cherry" as six movies in one, following the story of a single character from the mid-2000s until the present.

"The movie's broken up into six chapters that reflect those different periods, and each one has a different tone. It's shot with different lenses, different production design. One's got magical realism. Another chapter is absurdism. Another is horrorThere's a bit of gonzo in it. It's raw in its tone. He's a character in existential crisis," Joe Russo said.

Both directors felt a strong connection to both the 2018 Nico Walker novel and the screenplay, written by their sister, Angela Russo-Otstot, and Jessica Goldberg.

"We're from Cleveland and Nico's from Cleveland. Interestingly enough, we know a lot of people that are implied in the book," Joe Russo said. "I think he's fictionalized names and personalities. But I worked at the same restaurant that Nico worked at, 10 years apart. So he had a very similar upbringing to us. He just had a very different journey than we did."

The Russos also wanted to tell a story about people in their hometown who are struggling with addiction.

"Ohio is unfortunately at ground zero in the fight against the opioid crisis. And we've got a lot of people in our family that have either passed on or died from the crisis, or are struggling with their current addiction. So, this is a very, very personal movie for us," the Russos said.

In the film, Bravo plays Cherry's wife Emily, described as the "one bright spot" in his life.

"The love story is the central spine of the film. Without that relationship in the movie, it all falls apart for him. We knew that we needed to make her presence and her character glow in the moments that we did have with her," Anthony Russo said.

As Joe Russo points out, the film is supposed to "define the experience of having PTSD, the experience of being addicted to opioids." Its main mission, he added, is "generate empathy, not to generate disdain, not to indict."

"It was critical that you empathize with his struggle and his journey because a lot of people are going through this, and they're having a very human experience," Joe Russo said. "I think empathy is in incredibly short supply right now in the world. And it's a tragedy."