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SHERRYBABY

Director: LAURIE COLLYER

U.S.A. • 2006 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 96 MIN.


MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL CONFIRMS HER STATUS AS ONE OF THE FINEST YOUNG ACTORS OF HER GENERATION WITH THIS CAREFULLY NUANCED PORTRAIT OF A SINGLE MOTHER MAKING THE PERILOUS ADJUSTMENT TO LIFE OUTSIDE OF PRISON AND OFF THE DRUGS.

Having kicked the habit on the inside, Gyllenhaal’s 23-year-old Sherry Swanson returns to her New Jersey home town high on hope—all she has to do is reconnect with her small daughter who’s been looked after by her brother (Brad William Henke) and his wife (Bridget Barkan), stay on the right side of her parole officer (Giancarlo Esposito) and get a job. The going proves tougher than expected however, and since Sherry spent most of her adolescence out of it on junk, she’s not really equipped with the social skills to negotiate this testing path. And even with the support of her wily drugs counsellor Dean (tough-guy actor Danny Trejo, excellent), there’s still a lot of temptation out on the streets.

Frankly, this could all have turned into soap opera, were first-time writer-director Laurie Collyer not so attuned to the story’s everyday surroundings, and ready to underplay the melodramatic potential in favour of something that bit more ambiguous and truthful. She’s obviously very skilled at creating an atmosphere in which her actors thrive, and Gyllenhaal really makes the movie. Her character’s desperation to be a good mother is deeply touching, yet this perceptive and beautifully judged performance helps us understand that Sherry has to grow up first before she’ll be ready for the life she really wants.—Trevor Johnston.

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