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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
A Woman's Inner Strength Showcase
by James Colt Harrison

Yes, she did it all Herself! This film is an ode to those strong women who must get out of an abrasive and abusive relationship, no matter where they live. Herself happens to be set in Ireland, and actress Clare Dunn is one of Ireland’s most loved theatrical treasures. Born in Dublin in 1988, she appeared with the famed Abbey Theatre and the National Theatre. She has also appeared in a number of films, the most significant one is Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019).

Dunn has written the script, along with Malcolm Campbell, to showcase her talent, along with the other cast members. Dunn plays Sandra, a young wife and mother of two little girls, Molly (Molly McCann) and Emma (Ruby Rose O’Hara) whom she loves dearly and whom she wants to protect. Sandra’s husband is a brute and has physically abused her in front of the children. Husband Gary (Ireland’s Ian Lloyd Anderson) threatens to take away the children and gain custody of them.

Sandra has no alternative but to leave Gary and run away to a new life that is safe and more pleasant. Dunn, an excellent actress, conveys the fear and all the doubts that any woman would have in this dreadful situation. Sandra gets a job in a local pub to support herself and the children. She’s in a dilemma because the Housing Authority will not supply her with a place to live because of bureaucratic fumbling.

She decides to build her own house. Sandra’s frustration is echoed on Dunn’s expressive face, and the anguish she suffers is felt in the gut of the audience. Her friend Peggy (the wonderful Harriet Walter) offers her some free land behind her own house. Sandra accepts and enlists some friends and neighbors to build a house for her. It’s a triumph for Sandra and her friends to accomplish such a difficult fete when none of them were in the construction business. Dunn shows her happiness in her facial expressions, and the audience becomes swept up in Sandra’s elation at such an accomplishment.

When Sandra wins custody of the girls during a court case against her husband, the judge (Jane Brennan) rules on the side of Sandra. That makes Gary furious and frustrated.

But director Phyllida Lloyd (Mama Mia) doesn’t end the story there. A monumental tragedy strikes out of the blue and leaves the viewer stunned. It can’t be revealed what happens. However, this becomes the way for Sandra to show how strong she is and how women can overcome just about anything because of their inner strength. Ms. Dunn captures every emotion needed and excels in her presentation.

In the Golden Years of Hollywood, this would be considered a “woman’s picture.” But there is plenty here for all men to stop and take a look at and appreciate the “other half.”

(Released by Amazon Studios and rated “R” for language and some domestic violence.)

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