It’s never a good time to be poor, but years of austerity, COVID-19 and Brexit mean that it hasn’t been this bad for a long time. It has become increasingly difficult to find safe and affordable housing in London, but that’s not uncommon for a European capital. Dublin is almost as bad and has similar issues around a high cost of living. If you throw in high unemployment and low wages into the equation, people can easily get trapped in dangerous situations. Escape can seem like a pipe dream. In Phyllida Lloyd’s new film, Herself, Sandra finds a way out.
Sandra (Clare Dunne) lives on edge with her husband (Ian Lloyd Anderson) and two beautiful little girls. He uses violence and intimidation to control her, but when a beating goes too far she finally manages to escape. However, their struggles have only just begun as she desperately tries to secure housing for them, whilst working two jobs. At the same time, he tries to use their situation to wheedle back into her life. It starts to become too much for Sandra until an act of kindness offers them a way out.
Taking over from where Paddy Breathnach’s wonderful 2018 film Rosie left off, Herself is a timely and powerful drama about some of the difficulties faced by the victims of domestic abuse. Dunne, who also co-wrote the screenplay, is phenomenal as the beleaguered Sandra. Trying to hold everything together for the sake of her children. Whilst Lloyd’s steady direction keeps the focus on the social issues at the heart of Herself. A film which needs to be seen.
Herself screens at London Film Festival on 8 October and will be released in cinemas soon.