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In Cherish, Robin Tunney plays a suspect in a murder who is confined to her apartment during the investigation and guarded by a kind-hearted lawman (Tim Blake Nelson, the beloved Delmar of O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Rather than letting her circumstances get her down, she decides to play an elaborate game of "let's pretend" that eventually draws the guard into a strange mix of imagination and manipulation.
Michael Elliott says, "Cherish switches moods and styles so frequently that it keeps us somewhat off balance. While there are a great many flaws to this film, the performances of Tunney and Blake are well worth seeing."
But Tom Snyder (Movieguide) is displeased by "a Romantic, non-Christian worldview where the protagonist and other characters are subject to an unjust world that unfairly restricts one's alleged freedoms."
Mainstream critics had mixed responses, mostly faulting the film for an uneven tone and style. Elvis Mitchell (The New York Times) says, "As a poky little character comedy, Cherish is enchanting in a small-scale way. But when [the director] tries to turn it into a genre thriller, [the movie] deteriorates so quickly that it's unsettling — but probably not in the way Mr. Taylor intended."
But some, like Kirk Honeycutt (Hollywood Reporter), find the film worthwhile for Tunney's winning performance: "If Cherish achieves any sort of theatrical success—and this amiable, offbeat comic drama should please romantics of all ages—then the movie could make Robin Tunney a star. Tunney doesn't miss a beat or leave any possible dramatic values unexplored. Yes, the climax is convoluted and implausible. But seeing Zoe spring into action like a lioness let out of her cage is nevertheless hugely satisfying."