Los Angeles Times


Times Staff Writer

"Cherish" is an unfortunate title for a film that has nothing endearing about it. Implausible at every turn, it offers a dab of quirkiness and edge from writer-director Finn Taylor, but otherwise has nothing for audiences to embrace.

Stars Robin Tunney and Tim Blake Nelson have enough going for them that they would be worth seeing in happier circumstances, but they can't make much of a dent in this negligible film.

Tunney plays Zoe, a San Francisco computer animator lacking in self-confidence even though she's attractive and has a good enough job to purchase a small condo. She is continually snubbed by the office ice princess (Liz Phair) and spends her evenings listening to a radio station specializing in vintage sentimental love songs. On a rare evening out, she works up enough gumption to crash an office party, and winds up drinking and dancing with a sexy co-worker (Jason Priestley), who is concerned that she's had too much to drink to drive home. Overruling him, she gets in her car, only to find a shadowy figure lunging at her and forcing her to step on the gas. A cop in an intersection winds up dead, and her assailant has vanished.

Facing serious prison time should she be convicted of manslaughter while driving under the influence, Zoe is put under house arrest while awaiting trial. She turns over her assets, including her new condo, to a no-nonsense attorney (Nora Dunn), who gets her client confined to her new digs, a seedy loft in a dicey area, where she must wear an electronic surveillance anklet.

We are therefore treated to long stretches of Zoe doing not much of anything in her new surroundings, although she does try to move beyond the 50-foot radius set by the monitoring device.

From time to time, a serious, straight-arrow young county deputy, Daly (Nelson), checks on her. Downstairs neighbor Max (Ricardo Gil) is sympathetic to Zoe and her plight, but is limited by his wheelchair. Denied a computer and stupidly smashing her TV in a moment of frustration, Zoe has her phone and her music to keep her company, but she has no interest in reading. Neither her attorney nor Daly believes her when she tries to explain that her elusive assailant was really responsible for the policeman's death.

The square and reticent Daly and Zoe are clearly drawn to each other, and "Cherish" might have made it had Daly cast his lot with Zoe much earlier and helped in a pursuit of the mysterious true killer. As it is, "Cherish" makes us feel that we're being held prisoner as much as Zoe.

MPAA rating: R, for language. Times guidelines: Fairly tame.


Robin Tunney...Zoe

Tim Blake Nelson...Bill Daly

Jason Priestley...Andrew

Brad Hunt...DJ

A Fine Line Features and Concrete Pictures presentation in association with Wonderfilms. Writer-director Finn Taylor. Producers Johnny Wow, Mark Burton. Executive producers Jeffrey Boortz, John Sideropoulos, Steven Siebert. Cinematographer Barry Stone. Editor Rick LeCompte. Music Mark De Gli Antoni. Costumes Amy Brownson Donato. Production designer Don Day.

At selected theaters.

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