Sherrybaby is the kind of pretend-arty Sundance thing that gives indie cinema a bad name. Sherry Swanson, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, is an ex- junkie just out of jail on a robbery rap. Wired on nervous energy, she looks primed to explode. No matter how much grit writer-director Laurie Collyer sprinkles on the surface, the innards of this baby are pure formula. Have three years in lockup prepped Sherry to re-enter society and reclaim her baby girl (Ryan Simpkins) from her brother (Brad William Henke) and his Sherry-hating wife (Bridget Barkan)? Or do her hooker wardrobe, jones for a drink and willingness to suck her parole officer’s dick for the right job suggest that reform is a long way off?
If you don’t see where the story is heading, this must be your first movie. If so, you will at least have the pleasure of seeing the gifted Gyllenhaal, a powerhouse actress who almost lifts Sherrybaby out of the valley of cliches where it makes its home. Even in the synthetic bubble of a movie that traps her, Gyllenhaal is the real, riveting deal.