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Herself (15)

Cast: Conleth Hill, Clare Dunne, Harriet Walter, Cathy Belton
Genre: Drama
Author(s): Malcolm Campbell, Clare Dunne
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Release Date: 10/09/2021 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 97mins
Country: Ire
Year: 2020

In present-day Dublin, Sandra is trapped in an abusive marriage to her husband Gary. She secretly amasses cash to flee with her two daughters, Emma and Molly, but Gary discovers the plan and stamps on Sandra's hand in rage. Prompted by her mother's code word, Emma sounds the alarm while youngest child Molly witnesses the brutality from a hiding spot in her playhouse. With police and lawyers involved, Sandra moves into temporary accommodation with the girls.


LondonNet Film Review
Herself (15)

In present-day Dublin, Sandra (Clare Dunne) is trapped in an abusive marriage to her husband Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson). She secretly amasses cash to flee with her two daughters, Emma (Ruby Rose O’Hara) and Molly (Molly McCann), but Gary discovers the plan and stamps on Sandra’s hand in rage. Prompted by her mother’s code word, Emma sounds the alarm while youngest child Molly witnesses the brutality from a hiding spot in her playhouse…

With police and lawyers involved, Sandra moves into temporary accommodation with the girls and makes ends meet as a cleaner in a city-centre bar and at the home of doctor Peggy O’Toole (Harriet Walter). During one visit to Peggy, Sandra watches an instructional video about how to build a home for £35,000. The medic responds with unimaginable kindness – “I want to give you the land and lend you the money to build your house” – and Sandra persuades building contractor Aido (Conleth Hill) to oversee the project.

Galvanised by an emotionally raw lead performance from Dunne, Herself is an empowering drama about one woman’s defiant battle against a flawed system. The script, co-written by Dunne and Malcolm Campbell, pulls no punches with disturbing flashbacks to Gary’s vice-like hold on his family.

Director Phyllida Lloyd leaves us in a state of perpetual fear for Sandra and the girls, especially when she reminisces about happier times with her husband (“I miss him, I miss who he was”). In those moments when darkness threatens to suffocate the characters, Herself finds flickering beacons of joy in the gloom that can shepherd Sandra to hard-fought independence, and salvation.

– Sarah Lee


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