Maggie Gyllenhaal is fast establishing herself as one of the bravest actresses of her generation and performances don’t come much more courageous than this.
She stars as Sherry, an ex-junkie just out of prison for stealing and finding it very difficult to come to terms with the restrictions placed on her by her parole officer (Giancarlo Esposito). Sherry is desperate to stay on the straight and narrow because she wants to regain custody of her young daughter, now in the care of her brother (Brad William Henke) and his wife (Bridget Barkin). Although she’s clean she finds it increasingly impossible to deal with everyday problems such as getting a job, living in a halfway house and curbing her impulsive nature, and she knows if she’s not careful a return to drug use will take her daughter away from her forever.
Gyllenhaal shows us Sherry warts and all – both her sunny, sweet side and her self-destructive inner demons – and it is a measure of her talent that you still warm to this damaged woman, even when her behaviour is not commendable. At times she seems pathetic and sad, at others manipulative, and yet you still hope she wins through. The writing is honest and raw throughout (the film is written by director Laurie Collyer), and although the ending rings less true than what precedes it, there is still much here to really impress. Pixie Santos
Sherrybaby is released on July 27