September 09, 2021
Clare Dunne stars in and writes this self-empowering story of a battered Dublin cleaner who builds her own house, directed by The Iron Lady’s Phyllida Lloyd
Herself review – Irish abuse drama turns into home-build heartwarmer
Clare Dunne is the young Irish stage and screen performer who takes a commanding role in this heartfelt and engrossing personal movie: she is the star and co-writer with Malcolm Campbell (who scripted Lenny Abrahamson’s What Richard Did). The director is Phyllida Lloyd, known for mainstream films like Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady, and she shows a confident touch with both the subdued moments, the intestine-clenching spasms of domestic abuse and the big C-major chords of emotional uplift. It’s a really unexpected drama: unexpected for a heartwarmer, unexpected for a tough social-realist picture, these being the two genres in which it finds a Venn overlap.
Sandra (Dunne) is a young woman in Dublin who has had to separate from her toxic and violently abusive husband Gary (scarily portrayed by Ian Lloyd Anderson), taking her two young daughters with her, taking cleaning jobs and living in state-funded hotel accommodation near the airport where she is humiliatingly told to come in through the service door at the back so her evident distress and poverty won’t upset the well-heeled customers. The hatchet-faced concierge icily reminds her of this arrangement whenever she cowers past the sleek flight attendants and pilots in their uniforms who are overnighting there. Here is how Sandra gets her nose rubbed in the glamorous world of international travel, a brutal reminder of how she is imprisoned at home – and doesn’t even actually have a home.
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