Herself is an inspiring movie about perseverance and never giving up. The main character Sandra finds herself in unimaginably difficult situations and consistently finds ways to overcome them. The film begins with Sandra escaping the clutches of her abusive partner. From there the road remains difficult as she struggles to find shelter and income to raise her two daughters. The temptation to return to her former partner, which would include a roof over her head, is there but there are constant reminders of his abusive nature. The film does a great job of touching on spousal abuse without focusing too much on it since many different films have already covered that subject. Instead it chooses to focus on the inspirational aspects such as Sandra’s choice to build a house for herself and her daughters. The film also directly asks questions that society is starting to ask about themselves and other prominent figures. Questions such as, Why women are asked why they stay with their abusive partners as opposed to asking the question why the partners are being abusive in the first place. Cancel culture and the law has caught up to some of these famous icons with abusive tendencies.
The film contains great performances and writing. Clare Dunne does a magnificent job playing Sandra, a mother who must find a way to provide food and shelter for her two daughters while healing from an injury caused by spousal abuse. She continues to try to keep things peaceful and civil with her former partner while sharing custody. Clare also co-wrote the emotional film. Clare does a fantastic job at showing how strong Sandra stays throughout all of the tumultuous times but also shows moments of emotion and vulnerability when the kids aren’t around. Harriet Walter also gives an outstanding performance as Peggy, one of Sandra’s biggest supporters.
Herself contains some outstanding writing when it comes to dialogue and plot. The dialogue was gripping and the plot contained some good twists to keep it interesting. The film has many layers. On the surface, it depicts a mother trying to recover from the trauma of abuse and literally build a house for her children.. The house represents what the family’s life can be as well as the safety, security and stability it would provide. You also see the effects of abuse not only on Sandra herself, but on her kids as well. At times the kids are scared of their father. Although it would be easier financially to get back together with her partner, Sandra knows it would not be a good situation long-term for her or her daughters.
Herself was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and was acquired by Amazon Studios. It certainly has a typical indie film feeling to it but that’s not to say it’s not gripping. It certainly does a good job of holding the audience’s attention despite the plot being about building a house. What sets this film apart from other films about spousal abuse is its ability to ask the tough questions and confront things head on, while also not letting the abuse be the main focus of the film. Herself is a fantastic independent film with a lot to say. I wouldn’t say it is a must-see but if you are a fan of independent cinema I would certainly recommend it, Overall the plot held my attention but felt like a stereotypical indie flick until the end, where it managed to shake things up. The film has an ending that I didn’t expect, making the movie much better than it would have been without it. Herself achieves the perfect mix of heart-breaking and inspiring while managing to stay relevant.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 Stars