Movies like this remind me of school plays – you’re there to see a performance (be it your child, or a friend’s child, giving it their all), not necessarily to sit through the story (which is usually impenetrable), but at the end of the night, you’re still very satisfied and look back on it fondly
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Brad William Henke, Sam Bottoms, Kate Burton, Danny Trejo, Giancarlo Esposito
Movies like this remind me of school plays – you’re there to see a performance (be it your child, or a friend’s child, giving it their all), not necessarily to sit through the story (which is usually impenetrable), but at the end of the night, you’re still very satisfied and look back on it fondly. “Sherry Baby” falls into the same category – though, I’ve got to admit, it’s about twenty times more entertaining than a school play; sorry teach – it’s got a fairly representative storyline (something resembling Nick Cassavettes’ “Gloria” (1980)), but the lead performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal is like Paris Hilton…. Goes down beautifully (and, it has to be said, easily).
She may play a character that doesn’t feel she has to work for her credit – whether it is as a mother, or simply an active member of society – but Gyllenhaal most certainly puts it in to get it back, here. She lets it all hang out – yep, even the twins take a central role – here; playing a trashy, over-sexed, rather despicable human being that, well, you can’t just help but like. That’s no easy feat for an actress.
As the tortured Sherry Swanson, Gyllenhaal reminds us that she’s an actress first, star later, as she immerses herself – even her body gestures are down pat – in the guise of a recently paroled drug addict whose hoping to put her life back together – including reigniting her relationship with her young daughter, who has been living with Sherry’s brother and his wife – now that she’s on the outside. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, though… and though she’s no dog, Sherry’s got some bite, so the job of rehabilitation is harder than it first seems.
Screenwriter and director Laurie Collyer doesn’t seem as sure as herself as Gyllenhaal seems to be, and lets her adown a tad. Her third act feels forced and tacky, and many parts of her film seem either too convenient or simply not intriguing enough.
Thank god for Maggie. She’ll make her parents proud.
Reviewer : Clint Morris
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