Zoe Adler (Robin Tunney) is a lonely 29-year-old computer animator who is not at home in her own skin. As an escape from the disappointing real world, she calls in her favorite pop music requests to San Francisco’s KXCH “Cherish” radio. One evening at an office party, Zoe is pleasantly surprised when Andrew (Jason Priestley) dances with her. She is very attracted to him.
Later, reaching her car in a drunken state, Zoe is kidnapped by a stranger. When he forces her to speed away by pressing his foot on the gas pedal, they run over and kill a policeman. When Zoe awakes, she finds she is under arrest and charged with causing the cop’s death.
Although Zoe’s lawyer (Nora Dunn) doesn’t really believe in her innocence, she still manages to get her into the city’s electronic bracelet program. Daly (Tim Blake Nelson), a country deputy who is in charge of this program, comes to her industrial loft apartment to explain how it works. For the two years before the trial. she will wear a bracelet around her ankle. Her movements are limited to a 57-foot radius prescribed by a tracking modem. Daly warns her not to tamper with the device.
Written and directed by Finn Taylor (Dream with the Fishes, 1996), Cherish is a clever comedy about the yearning for freedom. Robin Tunney puts in a vixenish performance as the restless and stir-crazy Zoe. She is determined to escape and find the man responsible for getting her in this predicament.
“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you,” the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre wrote. Zoe tries to outsmart the electronic monitoring system but fails. She befriends Max (Ricardo Gil), a wheelchair-ridden neighbor downstairs, and even seduces Daly, a lonely soul who is as desperate for human contact as she is. In the end, Zoe makes the most of a last-ditch attempt to prove her innocence just before the trial.
Finn Taylor has made another innovative film that is psychologically rich and consistently engaging. The pop music soundtrack provides a lively counterpoint to Zoe’s quest for freedom with numbers by Daryl Hall and John Oates, Human League, The Turtles, Soft Cell, The Impressions, and others.
The DVD edition features an audio commentary with actress Robin Tunney, writer-director Finn Taylor, and director of photography Barry Stone. It also contains a "Behind the Scenes" featurette and two deleted scenes, including an alternate ending.