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A woman walks away from a construction project with her daughter on her back and other volunteers walking behind her.

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Kristin Smith

Movie Review

Sandra just needs to get out.

Out of her home. Out of her marriage to an abusive husband. Out of the same destructive cycle.

One day, while she was dancing in the kitchen with her daughters, Sandra’s husband came home and began to beat her. She survived, but only because her daughter ran into town for help.

Now, Sandra has a restraining order against her husband and is on her own with her two girls, living in public housing. A better situation, but still difficult. Yet she’s tired of just scraping by, working multiple jobs and living off government money in government housing.

Then Sandra has this idea: What if she could build her own tiny home? I mean, if someone on the internet can do it, she could too, right? All she needs is 35,000 euros, a plot of land and a lot of help.

With hard work and determination, things begin to happen. But along the way, Sandra must learn how to hope against all odds as her husband fights to ruin the new life she intends to build.

Positive Elements

Sandra, although she suffers horrendous abuse, pushes through her own trauma for the sake of her children. She is a kind, dedicated, intentional mom who works tirelessly to support and protect her kids. She also eventually realizes that she cannot “fix” her physically abusive husband and is better off without him.

A woman named Dr. Peggy, for whom Sandra works, generously gives her a loan and land on which to build her home. Dr. Peggy also emotionally supports Sandra and her children and helps however she can.

A few of Sandra’s friends come alongside her and help her build her home, sacrificing their weekends and free time. Sandra’s daughters motivate and teach her to hope even when hope feels out of reach.

Spiritual Elements

Sandra and her daughters fondly discuss Sandra’s mother, who is now “in heaven” they say. Sandra’s daughter tells the story of a saint who prayed to God.

Sexual Content

Sandra wears a long T-shirt and underwear in one scene (though we only see her thighs).

Violent Content

Sandra’s husband, Gary, comes home from work one day, forces his daughters to go play outside in the cold and begins to beat Sandra after he finds out she may be trying to leave him. We see him step on her arm and break it, bang her head against the countertop and pull her hair.

Later, we see him forcefully grab and threaten her, and we hear that he punched her in the face and physically, emotionally and psychologically abused her for years. Throughout the film, Sandra struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as she fights to forget past abuse (we see her cry and shake each time a “flashback” occurs).  

Sandra’s young daughter refuses to go see her father after watching him physically abuse Sandra. In one scene, she’s so terrified that she locks herself in a closet and wets her pants in terror. Later, her father yells at her and tries to force her out of the car as she cries.

Sandra accidentally cuts one daughter’s arm while swinging a hammer. Sandra finds an elderly woman lying on the ground with a bruise on her head after fainting.

[Spoiler Warning] Gary burns Sandra’s new house to the ground. However, he is eventually arrested and thrown in jail.

Crude or Profane Language

God’s name is misused four times, and Jesus name is misused six times. The f-word is heard nearly 20 times and the s-word is heard once. British vulgarities like “bloody,” “arse,” and “bollocks” are heard once or twice each.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Men and women alike drink wine, hard liquor and beer. A few women smoke cigarettes. We hear that a housekeeper often “helped herself to whiskey.”

Other Negative Elements

Sarah fights Gary in court for custody of their two daughters. Sandra tells the judge that Gary is manipulative, violent and only behaves well in front of the judge to get what he wants.

Conclusion

Amazon Studios’ latest drama is set in Dublin, Ireland. Herself tells the story of a determined young mother who’s set on giving her kids the best life possible—even while abuse and government systems threaten to bring her down.

Language and some intense depictions of domestic violence earn an R-rating for this mature, grittily realistic movie. But for mature viewers who can navigate those real-world issues, there’s a lot here to appreciate in this inspiring film. Perhaps especially for single moms who’ve suffered similarly difficult experiences.  

The point of the film, although laden with grief, is that hope wins in the end. No matter how hard your circumstances, there is hope to be found in unlikely places and amongst unlikely people. The only requirement is that you hold on for dear life and never stop moving forward.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).