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Perth & Kinross Violence Against Women Partnership Logo
Perth & Kinross Violence Against Women Partnership Logo

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Perth & Kinross Violence Against Women Partnership

Herself - Perth Film Society

The partnership supported an event leading up to International Women’s Day - this was run by Perth Film Society supporting Perthshire Womens Aid,  Perthshire Womens Aid raised £109.00 on Thursday evening- thank you to all who supported this event. More details below.

Herself – Thursday 3 March 2022

7:45pm, Joan Knight Studio, Perth Theatre

Cert 15, 90 mins, English

“Herself” is a 2020 Irish drama directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia, Iron Lady), which PFS is screening in support of International Women’s day 2022.  Please note that we’ve invited representatives from Perthshire Women’s Aid to introduce our film and to collect some much needed donations to support their work.

After a harrowing and violent opening film sequence, single mother Sandra (Clare Dunne) flees from her toxic, thuggishly abusive husband Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson), and from her Dublin home, taking her two young daughters.  She is placed in temporary hotel accommodation, while the council fails to find anything more suitable/permanent.  The hotel insists that she enters via a back service door to keep her evident distress and poverty away from the well-heeled customers.  In this way her nose is rubbed in the glamorous world of travel while she is imprisoned at home, only she doesn’t actually have a home, nor hope of getting one.  After months of struggling to make ends meet, and frustrated by the lack of affordable housing in the city, one of her daughter’s bedtime stories gives her the idea of building her own.  If the council loaned her the capital and then rented the resulting house back to her, it would cost them far less than paying hotel bills.  Inevitably officialdom is obstructive, but Sandra doesn’t give up.  One of her cleaning clients, the formidable Peggy (Harriet Walter), offers her land, and builder Aido, (Conleth Hill), helps her realise the plan, making it seem like Sandra’s dream may finally come true.  That is until Gary wants custody of the children ……

The film very effectively conveys the white noise in Sandra’s head that can still be triggered by Gary’s wheedling requests for a second chance, his empty promises of getting ‘help’, his mood shifts, and his theatrical displays of good humour towards the girls.  Against this, will Sandra ever be able to rebuild her life?  

“Herself” is the kind of social-realist film that Ken Loach often makes but this story is more about self-help and self-empowerment from the simple idea of building something, as opposed to passively and miserably putting up with callous bureaucracy and the next sickening display of abuse.  It’s a heartfelt, sympathetic and engrossing movie along the lines of “Wild Rose”, because Sandra can see a way out.  Dunne’s committed lead performance is matched ably by the actors playing her daughters, and by director Lloyd, who shows a confident touch with the subdued moments, and the intestine-clenching spasms of domestic abuse, all balanced with emotional uplift.  It is a truly heart-warming story that is also a tough and realistic drama.

The film 4 awards in 2020 and 2021:  Human Rights and Acting Discovery at the Dublin International Film Festival; Best Script at the Irish Film and Television Awards; and Women Saving Themselves by the Women Film Critics Circle.  


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