January 25, 2021 – This intense drama highlights the struggle of a single mother to achieve some independence in a society where the odds are stacked against her. This describes most societies, but this particular one is in Ireland.
In Dublin, Sandra (played by Clare Dunne of “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” senses that her hot-tempered, abusive husband is about to attack her when he sends his two young daughters out of the house so he can “talk” to her. Before their daughters leave Sandra whispers an emergency code word to Emma (Ruby Rose O'Hara), her highly-intelligent oldest daughter.
Emma quickly runs to a nearby office for help, showing them a note, prepared in advance, indicating her mother is in danger. It looks like Emma has done this before.
Sandra is badly beaten, suffering nerve damage in her arm. Even with financial help from her husband, Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson) and working two jobs, she can't afford a place of her own to live. Sandra and her daughters, Emma and Molly (played by Molly McCann) live in a motel, but are segregated, and not allowed to enter the building through the main lobby.
Sandra qualifies for public housing, but the demand is high and the supply is low. After seeing a video online, she hits upon the idea of building her own house, and presents a rational cost-effective plan to the housing authorities for financing so she can build her own home. Of course they cannot accommodate her because of bureaucratic rules.
Suffering from PTSD and constant pain from her injured arm, Sandra struggles to keep her family together. Finally, one of her employers, Peggy (Harriet Walter of “Atonement”) a retired doctor, recognizes the fix that Sandra is in and offers her the financing and land, in her own back yard, to build her home.
The problem is that Sandra has no experience in construction, so she needs help. Somehow she manages to get help from a number of volunteers, including Aido Deveney (Conleth Hill) a contractor and engineer who reluctantly agrees to supervise the construction project.
There is a crisis, one of several, when Gary takes Sandra to court, claiming she is an unfit mother. Sandra is afraid that she will lose custody of her children. This just one of several obstacles that Sandra must overcome. The story is made more believable by the fact that Sandra has some flaws and doesn't always seem to appreciate the help she gets from others.
I have always felt that single mothers are the unsung heroes of our society. They are often faced with enormous obstacles, like the ones faced by Sandra in this movie. Often, they don't get much, if any, support from the absent fathers of their children, or their employers. They are often on their own trying to care for their children and make a living at the same time, working low wage jobs. During this pandemic, they also have to educate their children as well.
This movie covers some of that territory. The story offers no easy answers, no quick solutions to Sandra's problems. It is all about the struggle just to stay afloat. The performances by Clare Dunne (who also co-wrote the screenplay) Ian Lloyd Anderson, Harriet Walter, Conleth Hill, Ruby Rose O'Hara and Molly McCann are all very stong and convincing. This film rates a B.
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