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Monday, August 6, 2007

SHERRYBABY (2006) - Laurie Collyer

SherryBaby, Laurie Collyer's raw and honest look at a recovering heroin addict's attempt to turn her life around, garnered much praise at the Sundance Film Festival. Indeed, the film earned a Grand Jury Prize nomination in the dramatic category. And it's easy to see why. It's very much a festival-type movie. A story about a character who struggles to better herself despite the odds, with a barnstorming performance by the main actor, SherryBaby is very much a film the festival juries would lap up. But is it a good film?

Sherry Swanson is a recovering heroin addict, who has spent three years in jail for robbery. She returns to her New Jersey home in order to establish a relationship with her daughter, whom she hasn't seen since she was an infant. The child is in the care of Sherry's brother and his wife, a couple who (despite her brother's affection for Sherry) aren't quite comfortable with allowing Sherry back into the child's life. Sherry struggles to maintain her status as a recovering addict as life on the outside of prison isn't as easy as she'd thought it would be.

Well the first thing to note about SherryBaby is, it's no comedy. This is one of those movies that makes you think 'well at least my life is a helluva lot better than that!' So don't expect to go in and be chuckling for ninety minutes. But that's not to say it isn't a good movie. Obviously, it's a character driven piece, with Maggie Gyllenhaal's Sherry dominating nearly every frame of the movie. And it's a good thing she puts in one of the best performances of her life. It's a very difficult role to play, requiring quite a lot of courage from Gyllenhaal as an actor. But she's well up to the task.

Sherry herself isn't the most sympathetic of characters. She's quite a selfish person, and you would be forgiven for thinking she should just quit her moaning and get her life together. If she wants her daughter back, she has to work at it. But then, there's the drama. Without that, there'd be no film. At the end of the day, SherryBaby's definitely one of those festival-type movies. A huge departure from the usual soulless, empty and flashy box office pullers of the summer. But that's something refreshing. Not a date movie, but if you're looking for an antithesis to the blockbusters out at the moment, this is it.


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