Clare Dunne shines in this heartwarming Irish film about a battered mother fighting to make a new life for herself and her two small daughters.
Sandra (Clare Dunne) has been bashed once too often by her husband Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson), and she escapes with little Emma (Ruby Rose O’Hara) and Molly (Molly McCann) – both adorable.
She has no money and nowhere to live. She gets two jobs, as a hotel waitress and as home help for an acerbic doctor, Peggy O’Toole (Harriet Walter), who is recovering from a broken hip.
With no public housing available, she and the children are placed in an airport hotel well out of town. She has hours of driving every day to drop off the children and pick them up from school.
Director Phyllida Lloyd emphasises the long-lasting effect of domestic violence on its victims. Sandra keeps getting flashbacks of Gary’s brutal attacks as she tries to get over the trauma.
Most of all she longs for a home where she and the children can feel safe.
It doesn’t help that Gary keeps berating her for running late to drop off the children.
Hope dawns when she happens on a youtube ad for a tiny build-yourself home for only 35,000 euros (about $A55,000), with the plans and specifications available free on the internet.
Sandra has no experience of building but she convinces herself that, with a little bit of help, she could do it.
It’s a long shot, but somehow her optimistic enthusiasm attracts some surprising helpers.
Meanwhile Gary is doing all he can to undermine her confidence. He even tries to take the girls away from her, arguing in court that she is not a fit mother.
When he sends Sandra an envelope with one of the children, its contents – a happy photo of her and Gary in the good times – reduces her to tears.
“I miss who he was,” she sobs.
Donne wrote the script, with Malcolm Campbell, and though the storyline is at times unconvincing, Lloyd’s skilful direction, and fine performances from all involved, make this an enjoyable film.
Herself is on now at Luna Leederville and Luna On SX.
Watch the trailer…