19 April 2021 / by Jordyn Lalonde
The ‘Mamma Mia!’ director returns with a story of one woman’s escape from abuse.

Phyllida Lloyd’s directorial return, ‘Herself,’ wrestles with the idea of how it’s often the darkest corners that kickstart survival. The film opens as Sandra (Clare Dunne) and her two young girls have temporarily escaped from her abusive husband (Ian Lloyd Anderson) in the hopes of living a better life. They bounce from one living situation to the next, one cheap apartment away from the person they fear the most. Sandra and her children must now attempt to navigate their new lives and restore the happiness they once had. 

Flashbacks from the abuse Sandra endured from her husband occur mainly every time she sees him, cementing the idea that it isn’t exactly so easy to let go of past or current problematic relationships. Sandra continues through selfless ways of life, showing how she can persevere through the hardships and still be farther in life than she could have imagined. We see a woman struggling to get through the worst of times by achieving the unthinkable. 

The story is propelled mainly through Clare Dunne’s portrayal of Sandra, and her performance sparks a sense of familiarity through the multiple struggles she has to endure. Love and perseverance are prominent themes throughout the film, prompted mainly through Sandra’s actions for her children. These themes show a great connection on how almost any family would pursue selfless acts for one another to make them happy and to survive. The overall storyline of reassembling what was lost, the household connection may resonate with many viewers. The quick transitions between scenes are executed well for those with a short-attention-span.

Filmed in Ireland, ‘Herself’ compels us to look at the brighter side of life, even as the past consistently lurking behind. Lloyd enhances this optimistic theme for a general audience. The storyline shows how hard it can be to become happy with one’s accomplishments, no matter how significant they are. In the end, Sandra finally realizes that no matter how many barriers get put up in front of her, she can always overcome them by accepting the circumstances, looking at the bright side of life and becoming an ally rather than an enemy to herself. 

‘Herself’ released on January 8th, 2021, and is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.