directed by Laurie Collyer
(IFC, 2006)

Sherrybaby is a story about starting life over when you've hit rock bottom. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Sherry, a 22-year-old ex-junkie on parole with a sincere desire to turn her life around and regain custody of her 5-year-old daughter. While Sherry was in jail, her daughter lived with Sherry's brother and his wife, and the sister-in-law now has an iron resolve to keep the child and not return her to the flaky ex-con mother.

Gyllenhaal expertly captures the spirit of a woman who desires change and desperately wants to be a good mother, but for whom motherhood and stability do not come naturally. The climax of the movie features her attempt of a day on the town with her daughter, a disaster of a day despite all of Sherry's best efforts. Throughout the movie, Sherry battles addiction, past demons and the hard-luck reality that not many employers or professionals want to take a chance on an ex-con. Since she's known nothing else, Sherry often turns to using her body to get what she wants in the "real world."

Gyllenhall's outstanding performance is complemented by that of Danny Trejo as a tough, tattooed recovering addict who provides Sherry with stability and wisdom. Trejo's appearance is that of an ex-con (which he is in real life) tough guy who knows a bit about how the world works, but in this role, he plays a spiritual man with a soft, kind resolve under his tough exterior. His character is a guardian angel in an unlikely disguise.

Sherrybaby proves once again that Maggie Gyllenhaal is one of the most outstanding actors of her generation, and gives Trejo a chance to shine in a leading role. I look forward to following the careers of these terrific actors.

review by
Jessica Lux-Baumann

15 September 2007

what's new