Sherry Swanson returns home to New Jersey after serving a three year prison sentence. Eager to reestablish a relationship with her young daughter, Sherry soon discovers that coming back to ... See full summary »
A fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States -- Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit.
Sherry Swanson returns home to New Jersey after serving a three year prison sentence. Eager to reestablish a relationship with her young daughter, Sherry soon discovers that coming back to the world she left behind is far more difficult than she had planned. Written by
Ryan Simpkins lost four teeth on the set of Sherrybaby. See more »
When Sherry first checks in with her P.O., she signs the receipt for her property's return. As she scribbles her signature, she appears to start with an "M" instead of an "S", for "Sherry". Then, she dots the "i", in her first name, and is clearly signing her real name, "Maggie Gyllenhaal", and not "Sherry Swanson". See more »
Gyllenhaal's Courageous Turn Illuminates an Unflinching Look at a Addict Reclaiming Her Life and Child
Maggie Gyllenhaal emerges as an undeniably powerful actress in the title role of this low-budget 2006 indie. Rather than providing her usual scene-stealing turn, she gets to convey the nuances of a full-blown character by delivering an astonishing range of emotion as a struggling ex-convict. The film reminds me quite a bit of Ulu Grosbard's overlooked 1978 "Straight Time" in which Dustin Hoffman plays a paroled ex-burglar who cannot shake his former life. Both provide incisive looks into the hardscrabble existence of people trying desperately to reform, but in doing so, the stories become so desultory and the situations start to have a by-the-numbers feeling that the dramatic momentum dissipates toward their inevitable conclusions.
Directed and written by Laurie Collyer, the film takes an unflinching look at Sherry Swanson, a former heroin addict just released on parole after three years in prison for robbery. Returning home to New Jersey, she is desperate to stay clean and sober in order to reclaim her young daughter Alexis from her sympathetic brother Bobby and his conflicted wife Lynette. Without drugs, Sherry's addictive behavior manifests itself in cigarettes, alcohol and emboldened sexual acts to get what she needs. Yet, her biggest addiction is her relentless pursuit of an idealized image of herself as a mother, and it is her disconnect with reality that produces the film's most poignant moments. Otherwise, the movie gets increasingly frustrating to watch because Collyer provides only hints of what Sherry brought her to her dilemma. What we see mainly are flashes of short-tempered narcissism when we see people understandably looking to emotionally disengage from her, including her indiscriminate father.
There are some surprisingly graphic scenes that show how Sherry uses her shopworn beauty as emotional armor when Collyer could have better used them to underline her melancholy mental state. In the face of these script shortcomings, Gyllenhaal displays enough dexterity to fill in a lot of the blanks, especially when she shows how Sherry starts realizing the depth of her accountability for her problems. Brad William Henke provides solid support as Bobby, as does Bridget Barkan as Lynette, Danny Trejo as a supportive fellow addict, Giancarlo Esposito as Sherry's hardened parole officer, and ebullient little Ryan Simpkins as Alexis. I have to admit I could not wait for the 96-minute movie to be over, but it is worthwhile for Gyllenhaal's courageous work as it is she who holds the film together. Sadly, the 2007 DVD does not contains any significant extras (a commentary from Gyllenhaal and Collyer would have been most welcome) other than the trailer.
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