Sherry is a young woman with a history of drug abuse & emotional turmoil. Just out of prison she finds herself struggling against all odds to reconnect with her estranged 5-year-old daughter while trying to readjust to the... more » outside world. Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 01/23/2007 Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal Brad William Henke Run time: 96 minutes Rating: R« less
Michel D. (michelann) from WALNUT GROVE, MO Reviewed on 3/16/2018...
This movie absolutely blew me away! Maggie Gyllenhaal is super talented and this role may be her best to date. She makes the character Sherry so believable and vulnerable. WOW!
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
To Call Her a Fearless Actress Is An Understatement
Rudy Palma | NJ | 03/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unflinchingly absorbing from the first scene to the last, Maggie Gyllenhaal brings a candid, earthy aura to "Sherrybaby," her most impressive acting vehicle up to this point. New to DVD, this gut-wrenching look at an ex-convict's struggle to establish control over her life truly sizzles.
Any doubt of Gyllenhaal's abilities is erased only minutes into the film. At the drop of a hat, she makes Sherry Swanson turn from sexual to vulnerable, violent to passive, indifferent to invested, self-assured to insecure. Through it all, she is endearing enough to win over even the most ignorant viewers - the kind who shield their eyes when real-life Sherrys pass them on the street.
When we first meet her, she saunters off the bus in Newark, finally home after three years in prison. Contrasting with the business suits that surround her skimpy strawberry blonde get-up, she hollers after a man merely for brushing against her in a hurry to cross the street; the unfolding of a misfit begins.
Parole Officer Hernandez is played by the ever-brilliant Giancarlo Esposito, who has a knack for playing deceivingly straightforward authority figures. Appropriately hard-headed in his treatment of Sherry yet sympathetic to her misfortune, his character provides a three-dimensional look at the work of those who look after prisoners post-incarceration.
Sherry's heart-rending yet uneasy reunion with her tiny daughter Alexis, portrayed by Ryan Simpkins, sets the stage for the crux of the plot. Having been raised during her mother's incarceration by Sherry's brother Bobby and his wife Lynette, played by Brad William Henke and Bridget Barkan, Alexis is thrown a curveball when her mother suddenly arrives. With an ability to act natural on screen, Simpkins makes Alexis a fully realized character despite her extreme youth, underscoring key plot elements with a pure, uncensored nature par for the course in young children.
Fully intent on being a better mother, Sherry collides with her brother and sister-in-law, who closely regulate her interactions with Alexis out of legitimate concern. When she realizes they have instructed Alexis to address her not as "mommy" but as simply Sherry, tremendous tension ensues, finally ballooning out of control. Sensing the tension between the three adults, the toddler breaks down in tears, unsure of her position at an age when it is all she has to rely on. The juxtaposition of Sherry's urban life with her family's quiet existence in suburban Mountainside underscores their inevitable differences.
Dominant male figures are perhaps overly important to Sherry's definition of herself. Her relationship with her father, wisely underplayed by Sam Bottoms, is more pivotal than first meets the eye, providing context for her conflicted past. She also develops a relationship with recovered addict Dean, played by Danny Trejo, who becomes an unlikely anchor with his wizened, world-weary outlook.
It's easy to dismiss Sherry as someone who is raunchy and immoral, but an attentive viewing reveals the reasons behind her complexities. Gyllenhaal draws her character like an artist draws a painting, giving her depth and dimension that takes the viewer deeper and deeper in as the plot progresses. To call her a fearless actress would be an understatement.
Gyllenhaal fronts a top-notch cast in this gritty, unglamorous slice of life. For powerful acting, an engrossing story and wall-to-wall on-location shots of New Jersey to boot, "Sherrybaby" delivers the goods hand over fist."
Maggie shines as Sherry Swanson!!
Christine Doherty | Glendale/Burbank, CA USA | 01/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I went to the screening in LA last night for Sherry Baby. I wasn't going to attend but I am so glad that I did; even gladder still that the invite made it to me in the first place!
Suject matter is very adult but presented so telling and so honest and Maggie redeems her character with perfection. I've seen Maggie act before but never like this. Everyone did such a marvelous job. It's like watching people you know; not like being in a movie theater.
Great job!! Buy this movie as a permanent addition to your collection and watch it with your friends. The discussion it will bring forth after you watch the movie is worth the price of admission & more!!"
The Plight of the Addict
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Laurie Collyer both wrote and directed this very fine little film that examines the world in which addicted people live, even after they have 'paid their debt to society' by being imprisoned. She does not play to the sympathy of the audience: she rather empathizes with one woman's plight in her struggle to gain control of a life she has never been able to successfully assemble.
Sherry Swanson (a brilliant tour de force by Maggie Gyllenhaal) has been in prison for robbery, drug possession and heroin addiction for several years and as the film opens she is released to her hometown in New Jersey where she is assigned a parole officer (Giancarlo Esposito) and a 'safe haven' home. She longs to see her five-year-old daughter Alexis (Ryan Simpkins) whom she barely knows and who has been living with her brother Bobby (the excellent Brad William Henke) and his wife Lynette (Bridget Barkan). After encountering much prejudice and abuse heaped on ex-cons looking for work, Sherry manages to find a job working with kids and tries desperately to re-connect with Alexis but is rebuffed by Lynette and warned by Bobby that should she bring drugs in the house he will send her back to prison.
Sherry stumbles through her out-of-prison existence, connecting with old friends at an AA meeting, having a fling with her old flame Dean (Danny Trejo), attending a birthday party for Alexis given at her parents home where her father (Sam Bottoms) comforts her in a sexually intrusive way, and struggling with her roommates until she moves out on her own. She aches from not belonging, from the fact that her life on the 'outside' is as much a prison as on the 'inside', and she returns to drugs. Given an ultimatum by her parole officer she finally thinks she can put her life back together, but a planned outing with daughter Alexis forces Sherry to face the fact that she is not capable of the skills of mothering and she is able finally to ask for help from her caring brother.
Maggie Gyllenhaal is Sherry with every fiber of her being. It is a performance worthy of top honors. The beauty of the film is the fact that it does not opt for Hollywood happy endings: it merely stops with many questions unanswered - as is the case in life with people who suffer the agonies of addiction. It is beautifully acted and filmed and it deserves the attention of not only lovers of fine film, but also people who want to try to understand the horrors of drug addiction in a society unprepared to cope with it. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, January 07"
Gyllenhaal's Courageous Turn Illuminates an Unflinching Look
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 01/28/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Maggie Gyllenhaal emerges as an undeniably powerful actress in the title role of this low-budget 2006 indie. Rather than providing her usual scene-stealing turn, she gets to convey the nuances of a full-blown character by delivering an astonishing range of emotion as a struggling ex-convict. The film reminds me quite a bit of Ulu Grosbard's overlooked 1978 "Straight Time" in which Dustin Hoffman plays a paroled ex-burglar who cannot shake his former life. Both provide incisive looks into the hardscrabble existence of people trying desperately to reform, but in doing so, the stories become so desultory and the situations start to have a by-the-numbers feeling that the dramatic momentum dissipates toward their inevitable conclusions.
Directed and written by Laurie Collyer, the film takes an unflinching look at Sherry Swanson, a former heroin addict just released on parole after three years in prison for robbery. Returning home to New Jersey, she is desperate to stay clean and sober in order to reclaim her young daughter Alexis from her sympathetic brother Bobby and his conflicted wife Lynette. Without drugs, Sherry's addictive behavior manifests itself in cigarettes, alcohol and emboldened sexual acts to get what she needs. Yet, her biggest addiction is her relentless pursuit of an idealized image of herself as a mother, and it is her disconnect with reality that produces the film's most poignant moments. Otherwise, the movie gets increasingly frustrating to watch because Collyer provides only hints of what Sherry brought her to her dilemma. What we see mainly are flashes of short-tempered narcissism when we see people understandably looking to emotionally disengage from her, including her indiscriminate father.
There are some surprisingly graphic scenes that show how Sherry uses her shopworn beauty as emotional armor when Collyer could have better used them to underline her melancholy mental state. In the face of these script shortcomings, Gyllenhaal displays enough dexterity to fill in a lot of the blanks, especially when she shows how Sherry starts realizing the depth of her accountability for her problems. Brad William Henke provides solid support as Bobby, as does Bridget Barkan as Lynette, Danny Trejo as a supportive fellow addict, Giancarlo Esposito as Sherry's hardened parole officer, and ebullient little Ryan Simpkins as Alexis. I have to admit I could not wait for the 96-minute movie to be over, but it is worthwhile for Gyllenhaal's courageous work as it is she who holds the film together. Sadly, the 2007 DVD does not contain any significant extras (a commentary from Gyllenhaal and Collyer would have been most welcome) other than the trailer."
Maggie Gyllenhaal will hold your attention for the whole 96
Steven I. Ramm | Phila, PA USA | 01/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is certainly not the "feel good" movie of the year but it is one of the best actibg turns I've seen recently. Maggie Gyllenhaal, who has been known mostly for roles as quirky women ("Secretary" was just one), is the reason to see this tale of a drugged out criminal who is trying to get her life back in order and regain her young daughter. We never learn who the child's father is or the circumstances of the child's birth. Actually all we know is that "mommy was sent to prison for stealing". And, though you keep rooting for Sherry (Maggie's title role) to "make it", you know it's a tough road.
Despite the plot flaws, and missing pieces, you will be unable to take your eyes off of Maggie. (The fact that there are multiple scenes of Gyllenthaal's gorgeous nude body are just "icing on the cake"). There's lots of expletives here too so it's not a family film.
Her acting is stunning!
The star rating is based on the fact that the DVD release is devoid of any supplementals except for the film's trailer. There must have been deleted scenes - helping to flesh out Sherry's background - but none are included. And a Director's commentary would have helped too!
Maggie was nominated for a Golden Globe - but lost - and should be in the Oscar noms, which will be announced next week.
This film is definitely worth watching just to see this performance , which ranks on a par with Charlize Theron's turn in Monster a few years ago.