Cherry was almost certainly a better book than a movie. It’s told in parts, including an epilogue, and it feels rushed in film. Do all the essential notes of a complex story of young love, war, poverty and PTSD, self-destruction, and reemergence get hit? Yes. But it ends up feeling like many movies I’ve seen before put together in one place, each executed well, but with the whole just coming up feeling a bit dull.

There’s nothing dull about Tom Holland or Ciara Bravo, who are electrifying together and apart. At the start of the movie, I felt like their love and the point of view of Cherry (Tom Holland) was too obsessed with the male gaze and a fucked up version of masculinity that I’m just over with. But I came to really enjoy their relationship, for all its toxicity, and was wrapped up in their life and their struggle. It was a bit hard for me to believe everything about them, adorable as it was, prior to Cherry going off to war, but once he returns, their relationship becomes the most real thing in the film.

I’m glad to see Tom Holland in a different light, but I already liked him. Ciara Bravo is new to me, and I hope I will see her for a long time. She seamlessly transitioned from an adept, if tired, manic pixie dream girl to trying to be supportive wife to full on heroin addict. Each transition is only one scene, and if it weren’t executed with her considerable skill, it would have broken the film.