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director: Phyllida Lloyd (mamma mia!, The iron lady)

starring: claire dune, harriet walter, conleth hill and liz fitzgibbon


REVIEWER: nick tonkin

A young mother escapes her abusive husband and fights back against a broken housing system. She sets out to build her own home and in the process rebuilds her life and re-discovers herself.

Herself was directed by Phyllida Lloyd and was co-written by and stars Clare Dunne as Sandra, a young mother of two struggling to rebuild her life following a violent end to the abusive relationship with husband.


Sandra is a loving mother of two young girls, trying her best to keep a roof over their heads and money in the bank despite a seemingly endless series of obstacles. She works as a carer for the elderly Peggy (portrayed wonderfully by Harriet Walter), while also juggling inflexible hours at a bar and caring for her two young girls, Molly and Emma.


When the seeming impossibility of obtaining permanent safe housing for her family becomes undeniable, she finds hope and a goal in the idea of building her own home herself from designs for affordable housing obtained from the internet.

With the generosity of friends and strangers, she sets out to build a little home on land gifted to her by Peggy. 


Herself is briskly told, with assertive direction from Lloyd which is a good thing here as the film can do two things: present the pain and the hardships that Sandra has faced, both in her past with her husband to the present without becoming a meditation on hardship.


Secondly it can be used to show how Sandra and her girls overcome these obstacles with help from friends and strangers to achieve their goal of having a home to call their own.


Herself benefits greatly from the riveting performance of Clare Dunne as Sandra, and also Ruby Rose O’Hara as Sandra’s young daughter Emma.


Herself is a heartwarming and at times challenging film, that features an excellent performance from Clare Dunne.


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