Like the 2005 release DOWN TO THE BONE, SHERRYBABY examines
the struggles of addiction on a lower middle class woman. Both films were
screened at Sundance and both generated good word of mouth for their
respective leading ladies.
Maggie Gyllenhaal continues to astonish in the role of Sherry, a
twentysomething woman. As the film opens, she is on her way to a halfway
house after being released from a three year stint in prison. She's clean and
sober and determined to re-establish a relationship with her seven year old
daughter (newcomer Ryan Simpkins) who has been staying with Sherry's brother
(Brad William Henke) and his wife (Bridget Barkan). But the young woman is
due for a rude awakening. Life is not as simple as she thinks.
At the halfway house, Sherry chafes under the rigid rules and runs afoul
of another resident, resulting in fisticuffs. Her strict parole officer (Giancarlo
Esposito) adds additional stress to her life by pressuring her to find work. Sherry
begins to slip back into old patterns as the quintessential party girl. She seduces
two members of her 12-step group, one who is attached to her halfway house,
the other a counselor with whom she develops a deeper relationship (played by
Rio Hackford and Danny Trejo, respectively). She resorts to trading sexual favors
in order to land a job working with children.
SHERRYBABY was clearly a labor of love and a personal film for writer-
director Laurie Collyer. She was inspired to explore these issues when she learned
of her close friends was sent to prison in her early twenties. Clearly Collyer felt
that under different circumstances, she might have been the one going to jail.
The resulting film serves as a showcase for Maggie Gyllenhaal, who has been
enjoying an unbroken string of fine performances in both mainstream and
independent films. Like Vera Farmiga in DOWN TO THE BONE, Gyllenhaal
creates a full-bodied portrait of a woman struggling with addictions. And like
Felicity Huffman in TRANSAMERICA, Gyllenhaal elevates a flawed motion
picture to a higher level.
Rating: C +
MPAA Rating: None
Running time: 96 mins.
Viewed at the Broadway Screening Room
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.