I decided to watch this movie, not only because of the main protagonist (Maggie Gyllenhaal) but also because of the theme, from which I assumed that the film has to do with a very sensitive issue- not so much with drug addiction and get into society again, but more importantly, trying to reunite with your own child and build trust. Rejection from your own family, more specific from your own child is one of the worst things that can happen to a parent, it seems an unending torture, especially when the child is too young to understand completely and sometimes can be easily confused with what is going on.
It is a sad story, about an ex-drug addict who after some time in prison gets back in town, clean and willing to stay that way, dedicate herself to her one and only daughter.
There are some important things that I want to say in this review and that actually are the reasons why this movie must not mislead you into being sad or emotional about the poor mother that life tore her apart.When the movie ended, I was emotionally affected from the whole story, and from Gyllenhaal's acting. There is no doubt that she masterfully moved the audience with her performance. But... If someone take a more careful look in every frame of the film, he will notice that in the second half of the movie there is a scene that "explains" all they why's of the situations.Why Sherry did drugs when she was young? Why Sherry was a bit aggressive with other people (sometimes even with her own daughter)? Why Sherry lost control of everything and went to jail?
Before that specific scene, when Sherry goes at her father's house where she founds her father, her brother, her brother's wife and her little girl throwing a birthday party for her daughter, there is another scene when, for the first time after she's out of jail, her father comes for a visit in her brother's house. She is so happy to see him, extremely happy. She hugs him, she kisses him in the mouth, she tries to get his attention with laughing and saying or doing crazy things, jump on the couch or sing in the dinner table. Plus, her father is re-married with another woman and she is there also.
It was strange indeed, and it might have caught viewer's attention, but with the scene in the end, it all makes sense after all. This scene uncovers the truth to the audience and directs us to believe that the reason why Sherry is in this terrible path, is the relationship with his own father, that he assaulted her sexually (obviously from a young age, we understand that from the comfort he has to touch her breasts in his son's house) and that he destroyed her life. The End.
So, the (female) director of this movie, wants to reproduce a certain meaning of the figure of the father, the silence of his son while he is watching his own father sexually harass his daughter and lead the viewer to a consistent pattern, the one which family is violent to the children, a real catastrophe. It is very easy to do so, it is very easy to manipulate the thoughts and the unconscious of the viewer to this result. Why? Because the role of the father in the family hardly exists, we only see him from a distance, there are no further explanations or scenes that analyze his character or his relationship with his daughter.
The scene of the sexual assault is a raw, crude resort.Very bad things have happened to Sherry and we know who we have to blame for it. When she sees her father for the first time she is so happy, she does not seem to bother at all with his presence or his behavior. And when he finally is alone with her and touch her she runs far away and she needs desperately her dose. Someone might not think of this but, it is a cheap solution to put the blame on one of her family members and use the pattern that in our days is so usual in everyday life.