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Heroes of the Zeroes: Cherish

by on February 28, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

Rated R

A funny, romantic and thrilling empowerment story with a high-concept idea, Finn Taylor’s 2002 “Cherish” boasted great arm’s-length romantic chemistry between Tim Blake Nelson and Robin Tunney.

Zoe (Tunney) is a socially awkward computer animator who unknowingly has a stalker’s attention. After she boozes it up at a work party, he accosts Zoe in her car, causing the death of a bike cop — one Zoe is suspected of killing when she’s found in the car alone, at double the legal drinking limit and spouting an incredulous story.

Sentenced to house arrest at a new, rundown apartment with a handler (Nelson) as imposing as Barney Fife, Zoe gets cabin fever and tests her boundaries. When the stalker uses her stolen cell phone to find her, she must escape to survive.

Nelson makes a uniquely charming, recognizably sweet and noticeably quirky presence. But with probing eyes, Tunney turns Zoe’s socialization and investigation into little revelations — sculpting her magnetic, melancholy presence as perfectly as her buff body in third-act action where she sheds, and draws, blood knowing she’s facing down much more than a stalker. It’s a climax filled with robust reclamations.

“Cherish” was blink-and-miss, but Hollywood heft would’ve only softened its charmingly rough edges. The resolution certainly feels a bit frustratingly open-ended — we don’t want to have to feel tentative about a certain character’s thoughts, but we might have to — yet it plays into Taylor’s thematic suggestion that you can’t ever really know everything about everyone.