Under the Cherry Moon Jul 12, 2017 21:42:46 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jul 12, 2017 21:42:46 GMT -5
Under the Cherry Moon (1986)
Directed by: Prince
Directed by: Prince
Prince and Jerome Benton.
Prince might have been a jazz/R&B sensation, with a sensual style and musical prowess frequently copied but rarely duplicated, but there's a reason his filmography isn't highly regarded outside of the classic Purple Rain. In his handful of directorial credits, many of them short films and even documentaries, sit a couple of theatrical film efforts in the form of a tardy "sorta" sequel to Purple Rain known as Graffiti Bridge and Under the Cherry Moon. Just saying the latter aloud should inspire one's mind to raise with luscious images of a place they'd rather be than wherever they're currently at. Perhaps a blissful, serene landscape where an iridescent sun practically kisses the slowly babbling waters of a river or an ocean that isn't tarnished with the presence of human activity. Maybe the moon even has a blood-red glow that bleeds over to the sky that prompts delight in both the sailor and the Sheppard.
But alas, instead of the colorful palette and lively aura the title of Prince's directorial debut inspires, we get a drab, black-and-white cheapie that is about desperately little and never comes close to being a compelling or interesting picture. The story concerns a pair of gigolos (Prince and Jermone Benton) as they try to take a naive French heiress (Kristin Scott Thomas) for a ride and get a hold of her riches. When Prince's Christopher begins falling in love with her, however, it makes access to her $50 million trust fund that much more difficult, and his selfish friend Tricky (Benton) isn't sure he wants to aid his pal in trying to romance a woman from whom they're trying to steal. The jobs the two usually encounter are far simpler, but of course, this time around, someone must catch feelings for someone else, prolonging and complicating a film that was this close to never existing if the characters were the least bit believably.
Part of the disconnect Under the Cherry Moon prompts is its lack of tonal convictions. It doesn't seem to come to terms with its premise from a slapstick angle nor a soapier one that makes it move and feel like your average episode of All My Children. As a result, we get poor attempts at contrived humor often in the same scene as melodrama unfolds. If that's not enough, Becky Johnston' screenplay feels as if it's been assembled by mixing an unlikable Prince archetype with a confused narrative for the sole purpose of producing utterly mystifying results.
Also mysteriously absent from the film is a compelling or halfway decent song. Prince's eighth studio album Parade makes up the soundtrack, but it's used so sparingly, so half-heartedly that any melodies or vibes Prince managed to conjure up on his CD feel either forced or shortchanged throughout the film. Even if songs were played in a manner similar to their presence in Purple Rain, I'm not sure it would help very much given there is also no discernible visual scheme here that makes one feel immersed in the atmosphere. The film has the look and pleasantness of a 1930s studio drama shot through a filthy camera lens. The decision to omit color from the film is a peculiar one as it effectively robs the film of any kind of visual dazzle it could've had, even if, at the very least, the unspoken, unreferenced "cherry moon" could've been the sole object possessing color throughout the entire film.
Under the Cherry Moon squanders whatever potential it had, arriving two years after Purple Rain captivated audiences and gave them an atmosphere and a soundtrack as timeless as Prince's natural emotional leverage found in even his most unassuming B-sides. Prince's passion is on display in nearly everything he does, but with this film, it's reason to believe - given the directionless narrative, tonal unevenness, and a general apathy in regards to the characters - he not only bit off more than he could chew but also felt his ego swell to a size that minimized other concerns.
Starring: Prince, Jerome Benton, and Kristin Scott Thomas. Directed by: Prince.