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Herself (2020) – Blu Ray Review

From director Phyllida Lloyd come this bittersweet tale of a mother Sandra (Clare Dunne who co-wrote the script) who is trying to escape the clutches of her abusive husband and together with her two daughters leaves her home to try and find a better life for all of them. But things are not easy, with a housing shortage and having to stay in a hotel, Sandra has to keep up two jobs as well as take care of her children.

She continues to struggle, and her life seems to be going nowhere when she finally gets help and an opportunity to build her own house on a piece of land with a loan given to her by one of her customers. Together with a band of friends, she starts to not only build a house for her and her kids, but also rebuild her life.

Brilliantly acted and performed, this is a sometimes harrowing tale of abuse and the struggle to escape its trappings, and the mental health impact it has on its victims. Also, the constant struggle to try and get help from a system that just seems determined to put up obstacles in the way, even the courts seem against her when she has a battle for custody of the kids. The abusive husband always shows a kind face in public and the exact opposite when he is alone with her indoors and is trying to get her to try again with their relationship.

Director Phyllida Lloyd whose previous movies were Mamma Mia and The Iron Lady and had not made a film in 9 years, does not shy away from the violence and the effect it has on everyone including the children.

Ultimately, this is an uplifting tale of courage and determination of a mother determined to give herself and her daughters a better life no matter what obstacles are put in her way.

The Blu-ray is released by Picturehouse and has a very good transfer with a solid picture, as you would expect from a recent production. Audio has a DTS 5.1 mix but is mainly dialogue-driven and only has the occasional use of the surround speakers. What is disappointing is the lack of extras, with just a trailer. It would have been great to have a making-of feature or some interviews with the cast and crew.

Herself is a difficult and sometimes distressing film, this is an excellent drama and comes with a must-see recommendation.


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