“Sherrybaby”

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com
November 25, 2006

A disturbing film about a recovering drug addict trying to regain control of her life, Sherrybaby succinctly depicts what can happen when want and desire aren’t offset by control. In this bleak indie film, Sherry Swanson (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stranger Than Fiction, Secretary) has just been released from a three-year stint in prison. Dressed in her inappropriate uniform of a halter top and oh-so-high platform heels, she goes to brother’s house to see her 5-year-old daughter, Lexie (Ryan Simpkins).

Sherry is determined to be a mother to her child, but without a home, job, or any other form of stability, she grows frustrated and jealous of her brother and sister-in-law’s roles in Lexie’s life.

Tall and willowy, Gyllenhaal brings a sad desperation and simmering sexuality to the role. Sherry’s middle-class childhood was a blur of sex and drugs, and she seems incapable of breaking out of that destructive trap.

While the script by first-time feature film director Laurie Collyer isn’t wholly original, the picture moves at a good pace, giving insight as to why Sherry’s resigned to using sex to get what she wants. While the family secret doesn’t come as a complete surprise, it is somewhat perplexing that no one addresses it.

Ultimately, it’s Gyllenhaal who makes you care about a character that most people would’ve given up on.

November 25, 2006

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