Review: “SherryBaby” (2006)

“SherryBaby” (2006)

A film by Laurie Collyer

I didn’t take the time to check this film out back in 2006.  I can’t remember if I thought it would be too depressing, or if it would seem like the same old storyline of a recovering addict trying to assimilate back into the real world.  I was pleasantly surprised that “SherryBaby” was neither of these snap judgments.

“SherryBaby” takes place in Newark, New Jersey and follows Sherry Swanson, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal.  Sherry is a recently paroled heroin addict trying to get her act together with the ultimate goal of getting her daughter Alexis back in her life.  She returns from prison to find her daughter almost scared of her and becoming more attached to her brother and his wife.  They have been caring for her since she’s been in prison and take to her like she’s their own.  When Sherry arrives at the halfway house she is faced with a belligerent housemate and an atmosphere that she is convinced will push her to use again.  She soon leaves the house, against the rules of her parole, and flees to her brother’s home to be near her daughter. Her brother and his wife think it’s best for her to leave so Alexis doesn’t get confused.  Throughout the film you are given overly suggestive hints as to why Sherry might have started abusing as a teenager.

The pivotal moment in the film is when Sherry gets to spend the day alone with her daughter.  It finally sinks in that she is not at the right place in her life to be the mother she should be.  She gets past her selfishness and pride and asks her brother to help her raise her daughter.  You feel a shift in Sherry and feel like she might be able to pull off normalizing her life.  She also gets some help along the way from her parole officer and a fellow recovering addict named Dean, played by Danny Trejo.  It’s nice to see Trejo in a different role than his usual creepy bad guy.

Gyllenhaal puts out her usual stellar performance and creates a raw and vulnerable character.  Director Laurie Collyer puts forth a well scripted film and does an excellent job of showing a believable depiction of a recovering addict and the many obstacles they face.  It makes you hopeful that if someone has something to live for, it’s possible for them to finally make a change even after so many wrong turns.  It left me excited for any upcoming projects from Laurie Collyer.

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(Addendum by Kyna 1/22/12: Collyer is currently in post-production on her next film Sunlight Jr. which she wrote and directed.  The film stars Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon.)

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Lotus Wollschlager is the official Her Film movie reviewer.  Find her bio on the Her Film Reviews page.

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