out of Five
Running time: 86
Stylishly directed and featuring a terrific soundtrack, this is never less than watchable thanks to strong performances from Sheehan and Grint but the plot is ultimately underwhelming and fails to deliver the required emotional punch.
What's it all about?
Directed by Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn, Cherrybomb opens with Belfast best friends Malachy (Rupert Grint) and Luke (Robert Sheehan) facing police questioning over an unnamed but serious-sounding incident. We then flash back three days earlier to when the boys meet Michelle (Kimberley Nixon), the sexy daughter of Malachy's Leisureplex boss Crilly (James Nesbitt), who's secretly sleeping with Michelle's friend Donna (Niamh Quinn).
With both boys instantly smitten, Michelle manipulates the pair into competing to win her affections by behaving as badly as possible. As events spiral out of control, the tensions in the boys' friendship are strained to breaking point as it becomes clear that Luke – who lives with his alcoholic father (Lalor Roddy) and deals drugs for his older brother (Paul Kennedy) – is deeply resentful of Malachy's cosy family life.
Grint pulls off an impressive Belfast accent and has decent chemistry with both his co-stars but he can't quite shake off the shadow of Ron Weasley completely and frequently resorts to his overly familiar gormless expression, beloved of Harry Potter fans everywhere. This is a problem, because we're constantly told that Malachy is intelligent and a high achiever, yet we see no evidence of it.
Sheehan (from TV's excellent Misfits) is extremely good, suggesting deep emotional pain behind his bravado and recklessness. Nixon is undeniably gorgeous (and refreshingly fuller figured than we're used to seeing on screen) but she's also slightly miscast and doesn't really convince as a bad girl.
The direction is extremely stylish throughout, aided by Damien Elliott's striking cinematography and a terrific soundtrack but the plot is ultimately both underwhelming and anti-climactic. Apart from anything else, the competition element doesn't make sense – Michelle has no real ulterior motive and clearly prefers Malachy anyway.
Sheehan and Grint ensure that Cherrybomb is never less than watchable but the plot fails to live up to its potential and is ultimately underwhelming. Fantastic soundtrack though.