Herself [Grade: B-]

Director: Phillyda Lloyd

Cast: Clare Dunne, Ruby Rose O’Hara, Conleth Hill

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As I mentioned in my Instagram post when sharing my thoughts based on the trailer, I found the premise of this story interesting—this woman who decides to build herself a home in order to protect her and her daughters from domestic abuse. For the most part, this is what we get once the plot picks up, but I am not quite as sold on the title of the film with the complete story that is told.

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Below are my grades for key components in #Herself that I find to be key in any story/film—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development.

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Binge, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), & Don’t Rush.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale. 

* * *

Theme: B

Plot: C

Pacing: B+

Character Arc/Development: C

Entertainment Factor: Don’t Rush

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My Takeaways—(BOLD = Thumbs Up/Pluses, & Relaxed = Thumbs Down/Missteps):

1 A surprise standout for me was Ruby Rose O’Hara, the child actor who played Emma. She had quite a few scenes that were really admirable for her age. 

2 The plot was pretty predictable even though you could tell that editing was meant to foreshadow some type of twist. 

3 There were 2 moments where the term “herself” was clearly used in reference to the main character that also signified the 2 moments in the film where the/a “theme” definitely comes through the best—this theme around the main character’s strength and determination. 

4 You know… the birthmark moments (there are 2 main moments)… … … It’s like, on one hand, I definitely see how that birthmark was used to help emphasize the theme in point #3 (more specifically, the 2nd moment)…

5 … … however, to piggyback off #4, the way the 2nd birthmark moment was depicted, felt sudden/random, especially when compared to the very first time we are introduced to the birthmark & her response about it. 

6 I appreciated the pacing at the beginning of the film for not spending so much time focused on the domestic violence aspect (which I feel is usually the case in films like this).

7 I appreciated the weaving of trauma that was triggered as a way to help continue the momentum/determination for the house. 

8 That “Black Widow” turn of events was DEFINITELY needed for a plot like this…

9 I wish that there was more background, or some common trope to Gary’s character to help justify the “extreme” behavior. Even the little bit that we do receive doesn’t give enough for me. 

10 Shout out to Aido and Francis! Awwww! 

11 There was a level of dramatic delivery from Clare Dunne that was missed during the “envelope and nail” moment, for me. 

12 The “hotel entrance” felt like a stretch…even the comment about the “ass” in the hotel felt like a stretch. It really didn’t need any air time. 

13 I think the character placement of the daughters as these flat- and static-confidante characters was thought out well, and well delivered. 

* * *

Overall, the only interesting/unique thing about this film was seeing this character figure out how to build her own home. Other than that, the plot was a very safe. I also couldn’t help but think about access and privilege in this film, and what could have definitely been elevated in this film had the main character either NOT have 1 of those two factors, or if there was more social and systemic conflict to disrupt those factors. 

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