Spirited drama of abuse and resilience

Clare Dunne stars in this movie about the terror of abuse, and the positive worth of maternal love and self-determination. (IMDB)

Herself tells the story of an Irish wife and mother who escapes from an abusive husband to rebuild a life for herself and her two daughters in Dublin. Source: Jesuit Media.

It is based on a screenplay written by Malcolm Campbell and Clare Dunne, who takes the lead in the movie, and is directed by Phyllida Lloyd, who brought to the screen the much-awarded The Iron Lady in 2011.

After a violent attack by her husband Gary (Ian-Lloyd Anderson) ­– which opens the film – Sandra (Dunne), takes her two daughters, Molly (Molly McCann) and Emma (Ruby Rose O’Hara), to a cramped room in a hotel, seeking refuge. Desperate to get away from her manipulative and abusive husband, Sandra attempts to restore her life by building a safe house for herself and her daughters. The only way Sandra believes she can provide a happy home for her family is to build the house herself. She is motivated to build it by an incident in the life of one of Ireland’s patron Saints, St Brigid, told to her by her daughter, Emma, and a video she sees on the internet. The impact of the terrible things that have happened to Sandra and her children is heightened by Gary informing Sandra he wants to sue for legal custody of Molly and Emma.

Sandra has a part-time job, and the doctor-friend she works for, Peggy (Walter), does not understand why she has stayed with a violent husband. With Peggy’s support, Sandra builds up a diverse circle of understanding friends in her community, who offer her kindness, and with their support, she begins to recover her sense of self-worth.

This is an inspiring movie about caring and hope. The love and concern of a mother for her children are captured in an outstanding performance by Dunne, who powerfully takes the film’s key role. The movie is suitable mainly for adult viewing, because of the graphic display of physical abuse that it shows.

This film projects the terror of abuse, and the positive worth of maternal love and self-determination. It is an enormously convincing film, that powerfully delivers its core messages.

Peter W. Sheehan is an Associate of Jesuit Media

Herself. Starring: Clare Dunne, Harriet Walter, Molly McCann, Ruby Rose O’Hara, Ian-Lloyd Anderson and Conleth Hill. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd. MA15+. Restricted. (Strong themes and coarse language). 97min.

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Herself (Jesuit Media via Australian Catholics)

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