Sherrybaby Explained

Sherrybaby
Director:Laurie Collyer
Producer:Marc Turtletaub
Lemore Syvan
Starring:Maggie Gyllenhaal
Brad William Henke
Sam Bottoms
Kate Burton
Giancarlo Esposito
Danny Trejo
Music:Jack Livesey
Cinematography:Russell Lee Fine
Editing:Curtiss Clayton
Joe Landauer
Studio:Red Envelope Entertainment
Elevation Filmworks
Distributor:IFC Films
Runtime:96 minutes
Language:English
Budget:$2 million
Gross:$622,806

Sherrybaby is a 2006 American drama film written and directed by Laurie Collyer. Screened at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2006, the film received a limited release in the United States on September 8, 2006.

Plot

Sherry (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has been in prison for three years and is anxious to get back to her young daughter, Alexis (Ryan Simpkins), who has been living with Sherry's brother Bobby (Brad William Henke) and his wife, Lynnette (Bridget Barkan). The story opens with Sherry's arrival to her new home, a halfway house for women on parole. She is a former heroin addict and finds re-entering the world outside of prison more difficult than anticipated. Sherry admits at an AA meeting that although she has been clean for over two years, just four days out of prison she is strongly tempted to use. Once her home situation is established her greatest priority is to visit her daughter. Though Sherry is tearful and apologetic and Alexis is slightly shy on greeting, both become very happy on their first reuniting.

Sherry needs to work, but is unable to have the preschool job she wants because she has not finished rehabilitation while still on parole. She uses sex with the employment agent to get the job. Later, after getting into a fight with another woman at the halfway house, she moves in with Bobby without telling her parole officer (Giancarlo Esposito). Although Sherry wants to use the opportunity to become closer to Alexis, things are complicated by the fact that Lynnette thinks Sherry is an unfit mother. She insists that Alexis call Sherry by her first name instead of "mommy". While at their home Sherry's father (Sam Bottoms) visits. Sherry competes with her own daughter for his attention and later during dinner at the table he serves Sherry her first alcohol since being sober. The family does not recognize that this is a problem; there are also hints that Sherry's father has sexually molested her in the past.

Because of the conflict between Sherry and Bobby's wife, she ends up moving out of their house and into a motel. She also continues to drink increasing amounts of alcohol. As the story progresses, Sherry tries to be a good mother to Alexis, but she is needy and overbearing, and her efforts are upsetting to her daughter. Bobby and Lynnette resist her trying to be a larger part of Alexis' life so quickly. Sherry ends up confiding in her father, but as she cries on his shoulder, he touches her inappropriately. Bobby watches unseen, but doesn't speak and leaves the room. Sherry then leaves, upset, and goes out to find and use heroin.

After this, she returns to an AA meeting where her Native American friend Dean (Danny Trejo), a fellow addict, notices that she has been using again and helps her. He takes her to his house, smudges her with sage and draws her a bath. She borrows clothes from him so that she can return to her preschool job and hide her I.V. bruised arm. After work she goes back to her motel room and finds her parole officer waiting. She confesses that she is "dirty" and asks to be put in outpatient rehab. He tells her that she doesn't qualify to be an outpatient at this point; she must either go to inpatient rehab, or go back to prison. He gives her the weekend to say her goodbyes to her family and a time and place to report for rehab, and leaves.

Sherry meets up with Bobby and asks if she can have an opportunity to bond with Alexis. She implores him using guilt to let her take Alexis out for the day. He agrees and must even reassure Sherry he is on her side. Sherry comes to Bobby's house to pick up Alexis with a car borrowed from Dean, presumably to play miniature golf and with the agreement to return before evening. She does not let them know about her pending inpatient rehab. Alexis doesn't want to go, but stops crying once they are driving. She drives Alexis over the state line and they stop for lunch. As they are eating, Sherry asks Alexis if she's ever been to Florida, and whether she would like to go. Alexis needs to use the bathroom. A woman in line at the bathroom begins berating her small son and Sherry takes the woman by the hair and curses at her for bullying her child. Alexis disappears and Sherry finds her hiding in a bathroom stall with wet pants. In the parking lot, Sherry is frustrated helping Alexis change her clothes.

They drive back to Bobby's house past dark; Bobby and his wife have been worried. Alexis (not troubled) runs inside to see Lynnette. Bobby walks out and hugs Sherry, and she asks him if he would help to raise her daughter because she cannot do it by herself. He tells Sherry that he has already been helping to raise her daughter, and she tells him that she realized that she had never asked. They embrace, and needing to return Dean's car Sherry drives off into the night.

Cast

Reception

Entertainment Weekly praises the film as "emotionally arresting" and "authentic and moving", and describes Gyllenhaal as "such a miracle of an actress that she makes you respond to the innocence of Sherry's desperate, selfish destruction."[1] The Christian Science Monitor also gave a positive review of the film, complimenting Collyer's "vivid eye for detail and the small, telling human moments that make a movie resonate with audiences".[2]

Accolades

Awards
AwardCategoryNameResults
Chicago Film Critics Association[3] Best ActressMaggie Gyllenhaalbgcolor=orangeNominated
Golden Globe Award[4] Best Actress - DramaMaggie Gyllenhaalbgcolor=orangeNominated
Gotham Awards[5] Breakthrough DirectorLaurie Collyerbgcolor=orangeNominated
rowspan=2Karlovy Vary International Film Festival[6] Best ActressMaggie Gyllenhaalbgcolor=limeWon
Crystal GlobeLaurie Collyerbgcolor=limeWon
London Film Critics' Circle[7] Best ActressMaggie Gyllenhaalbgcolor=orangeNominated
Prism AwardPerformance in a Feature FilmMaggie Gyllenhaalbgcolor=limeWon
Satellite AwardsBest ActressMaggie Gyllenhaalbgcolor=orangeNominated
Sundance Film Festival[8] Grand Jury PrizeLaurie Collyerbgcolor=orangeNominated

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Sherrybaby. Gleiberman. Owen. September 6, 2006. Entertainment Weekly. 2009-01-21.
  2. Web site: Sherrybaby': emotional downpour. Rainer. Peter. September 9, 2008. Christian Science Monitor. 2009-01-21.
  3. http://www.chicagofilmcritics.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44
  4. http://www.goldenglobes.org/nominations/year/2006
  5. http://www.thereeler.com/features/putting_the_die_back_in_indie.php
  6. http://www.kviff.com/en/history-years/2006/
  7. http://www.moviecitynews.com/awards/2008/critics/london.html
  8. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0423169/awards