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USA 2006
Directed by
Laurie Collyer
96 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Sherrybaby impresses both as fine piece of scripting and directing by Laurie Collyer and a compelling incarnation of the main character by Maggie Gyllenhaal. Sherry is a mixed-up, shook-up girl, a heroin user just out of prison who is trying stitch back her relationship with her young daughter who has been living with her brother and his wife while Sherry's been serving time.

Laurie Collyer/Maggie Gyllenhaal's Sherry feels real in part because she is so flawed, Collyer rightly focusing on Gyllenhaal's performance rather than verbal explication to give us insight into and connection with the character. She's tough and unruly but rather than being trailer trash she's a girl/woman who has crossed to the wrong side of the tracks and this makes her an interesting character rather than merely a voyeuristically exploitable one. Collyer leads us to infer that Sherry's adult history is the result of an incestuous relationship with her father (Sam Bottoms). Certainly Sherry knows the effect her body has on men and uses it to get what she wants, or at least as much of it as she can, which frankly isn't much. And this is pretty much the substance of the film which if not exactly realistic in its approach is a heartfelt account of an woman struggling to reach some kind of compromise with the world in order to survive.

Gyllenhaal, always a reliable presence in any film, is compelling in the lead, providing a convincing mix of anger, selfishness, good intentions and bad behaviour, determination and vulnerability all without the slightest hint of contrivance. The support cast are also extremely good with Ryan Simpkins as her daughter and Brad William Henke as her brother standing out and with Danny Trejo, Giancarlo Esposito, and Kate Burton rounding out a economical story of the rocky road to redemption.

Available from: Madman




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