Cherry Tobacco is available to rent or buy from the 20th of December 2019 on Amazon and Vimeo.
Many films over the years have explored the desire, humour and longing that first love inevitably brings. However, the Estonian film Cherry Tobacco dovetails these intense feelings of passion with a nuanced exploration of community, infatuation and belonging, creating a gentle coming-of-age story that packs a dramatic punch.
Set in small-town Estonia during the last throws of summer, Laura (Maris Nõlvak) finds herself bored with her community, family, friends and life as she goes on arranged and excruciatingly managed dates with her young admirers. As her dates fail, Laura seeks excitement and escape from the mundane trappings of her town and the boys who struggle to meet her expectations of maturity.
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When her best friend Merit (Getter Meresmaa) invites Laura on a hiking trip into the Estonian countryside, Laura agrees, even though hiking isn’t her thing. But when she meets the hike leader, middle-aged Joosep (Gert Raudsep), she thinks she may have found the man she’s looking for. Laura becomes infatuated with the maturity and fragility of Joosep, his worldly ideas and love of nature captivating her imagination and desires.
As the hike grows increasingly intense, Laura’s feelings are clouded by her need to escape and the maturity Joseep offers. Meanwhile, Joosep’s insecurities and family troubles find a brief moment of respite under the wings of Laura’s increasing infatuation, creating a quiet and non-physical snapshot of a brief emotional connection that can never be allowed to flourish.
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Directing duo Andres and Katrin Maimik tread a challenging path in exploring themes of teenage infatuation, which, if placed in the wrong hands, could create an uncomfortable viewing experience. However, Andres and Katrin never allow Joosep’s character to become a potential predator, carefully exploring Joosep’s mid-life crisis and the vitality and serenity of Laura’s curiosity. While also exploring Laura’s need for a more mature male influence in her life as she searches for a deeper connection. Here, their time together offers a brief but invigorating connection that never goes beyond a deep but brief friendship.
Cherry Tobacco wears its heart on its sleeve from the first scene to the last, and while there are elements mid-way through that feel too melodic, the performances maintain audience attention. The result is a film that offers a delicate snapshot of a single moment in time where two people searching for meaning collide in an unexpected and almost dangerous way.