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Stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Brad William Henke, Danny Trejo, Sam Bottoms, Giancarlo Esposito, Kate Burton

Director: Laurie Collyer

Bubbly Gyllenhaal is cast against type in this downbeat drama, as a woman trying to get her life back together after three years in prison on drugs charges. Gyllenhaal's personality earns this weak-willed and rather annoying character more sympathy than she's probably worth.

Billeted at a halfway house, Sherry is soon humping the guy in charge and flirting with the other male occupants. Fleeing to her brother's, partly to see her daughter and partly for a place to stay, Sherry finds her temper sparked off by the smallest thing. And, as she says to her rehab group: 'I wanna use so bad.'

One would have thought it a little ill-advised to tell her tiny daughter that 'I stole from people to get money for drugs': no wonder the tyke, who keeps glancing at the camera, has no wish to go out on a day out with Sherry, on which they seem to do nothing very much apart from get into a fight with another mother.

The pressure of life outside, in fact, rapidly proves too much for our anti-heroine, and a re-acquaintance with her (still) abusive father (Bottoms) soon has Sherry back on heroin and cocaine.

It's all faintly dispiriting and alienating, despite the achingly fine central performance. One would think that the subject might be more effective as an hour-long TV doc with a real-life protagonist. This is a film that goes nowhere very much and seems to end somewhere in the middle.

David Quinlan

USA 2004. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Technicolor.
96 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 22 Jul 2007