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Overall Rating

Awesome: 23.08%
Worth A Look53.85%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad: 7.69%
Total Crap: 7.69%

1 review, 7 user ratings

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by Scott Weinberg

"An indie-minded young actress at the absolute top of her game."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Throw a rock through any half-decent film festival and you'll hit at least four movies like "Sherrybaby," a stark and sobering character study about a drug / sex / alcohol addict who is standing at a crossroads between the depths of depravity and the healing powers of rehabilitation. Generally these movies are only as good as their central character and the actor playing that role. And it's a darn good thing that Laurie Collyer's "Sherrybaby" has Maggie Gyllenhaal in that role, because, let's face it, she's easily one of the best under-30 actresses working today.

When we first meet Sherry, she's slinking across highways and bellowing at rude pedestrians. She looks a little worn-out and weary, but there's still an odd spring in the girl's step, as if she's just beginning a new chapter and wants to get things started off on the right foot.

As it turns out, Sherry has just been released from a three-year stint in prison. She used to be a stripper, an alcoholic, a heroin junkie, and (apparently) a really bad mother to her baby girl. But with prison in her rear-view mirror and a new halfway house on the horizon, Sherry aims to reconcile with her estranged daughter, mend a few fences with her loving (yet not entirely trusting) big brother, and somehow build a life that doesn't include hard drugs, drinking binges, or the inside of a jail cell.

Reminiscent of last year's Sundance flick Down to the Bone (which is another darn good, if difficult, character piece), Sherrybaby rises and falls on the capable back of Ms. Gyllenhaal. (Those who still doubt the talents of Jake's little sister need to make some time and sit down with films like Donnie Darko, Secretary, Adaptation., Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Happy Endings. Even in the smallest roles, she creates a memorable character with very little discernible effort.) That's not to say that Maggie salvages a bad film here, but writer/director Laurie Collyer is smart enough to know that Sherry is the main attraction here, and also that she was really fortunate to get an actress like Maggie to play the role.

Sherry bounces from new friends to old wounds, and as her story progresses you'll find yourself actively pulling for the melancholy maiden to get her life back on track, dammit! But Collyer, working from a true-life story that's obviously pretty personal, realizes that only in really stupid movies do former junkies get out of jail and immediately springboard into love, light, and endless happiness.

A character study piece is generally only as good as its main character and the actor playing the role, but "Sherrybaby" also benefits from a strong supporting cast that includes folks like Danny Trejo, Giancarlo Esposito, Sam Bottoms, and the excellent Brad Henke as Sherry's well-intentioned older brother. It's a sad, serious story about the road to "normal life" recovery, and the numerous detours, potholes, and accidents that always seem to pop up on that highway.

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originally posted: 01/29/06 08:12:56
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/16/10 brian Not pleasant, but very, VERY good. 5 stars
3/24/10 art it's just like the state OF new jersey,DEPRESSING AND BORING! 1 stars
3/01/09 Anonymous definitely maggie gyllenhaal's best role. :D 4 stars
1/27/07 William Goss Gyllenhaal is decent in otherwise average druggie drama. 3 stars
1/27/07 Jeff Anderson Compelling & completely truthful! Gyllenhaal's a marvel & Trejo matches her in every scene. 5 stars
2/04/06 susan murphey stunning performance by gyllenhaal 5 stars
1/28/06 xtc overrated meadering drama with no place to go with the brilliant maggie gyllenhaal. 2 stars
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  DVD: 23-Jan-2007



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