Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
Herself Movie Poster Image
Inspirational Irish drama has domestic abuse, language.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 97 minutes

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Stands out for positive messages.

Positive Messages

The movie celebrates resilience and innovation. It teaches that any hurdle can be overcome with the support of loved ones and there is always hope for the future.

Positive Role Models

Sandra is forced to overcome huge obstacles, but is determined and dedicated to building a better future for her children. She is smart and creative in thinking up ways to get out of her difficult situation. Many other characters show great kindness and support, even near strangers. Gary is Sandra's abusive husband. He is violent, aggressive, and manipulative, acting out of selfishness and revenge rather than in the interest of others.


Incidents of domestic violence are shown in real time and flashback, including kicking, punching, and stamping. These incidents result in blood on the face and a broken arm. A child has an accident resulting in a deep cut to the arm, and an older character is found passed out with a cut to the head. There is mention of the death of grandparents and children. Reference to an arson attack.


Language includes "c--t," "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," and "s--thole," as well as "bugger," "bollocks," "arse," "crap," "bleedin," "bloody," and "Jesus Christ."


A parent tries to win their children's affection by buying them expensive new shoes. A YouTube video plays a prominent role in the story.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters smoke cigarettes. Beer, wine, and whiskey are consumed and characters seen to be mildly drunk on one occasion. Codeine is taken for pain.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Herself is an inspiring Irish drama about a woman who escapes her abusive husband and attempts to rebuild a life for herself and her two daughters. After leaving her violent and manipulative husband, Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson), Sandra (Clare Dunne) decides to build a house for her and her two daughters. The movie includes adult themes and shows incidents of domestic violence, including kicking, punching, and stamping. Some of the injuries sustained include cuts and broken bones. There are scenes involving the benefits and legal systems, and a custody hearing. Strong language is used, including "c--t," "f--k," and "s--t," and alcohol and cigarettes feature occasionally. The story is bleak in places and could be distressing for younger viewers, but also has lighter moments that bring warmth and hope to the situation.

User Reviews

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There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 15 years old Written byQonBroadway05 January 8, 2021

Great Choice for an Older Family Movie Night

I am a freshman in high school, and my brother is two years younger. I say 12 is about the bottom age for this for two reasons. 1, there is some pretty intense... Continue reading

What's the story?

In HERSELF, Sandra (Clare Dunne) escapes her abusive husband after a particularly violent attack, taking refuge in a hotel with her two daughters. As she struggles with the housing system and complications with visitation rights, she discovers a YouTube video about building your own tiny house. Inspired, Sandra gathers a team of volunteers to help build her a home and a more hopeful future for her family.

Is it any good?

From Phyllida Lloyd -- the director of Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady -- comes this challenging yet inspirational drama about a woman struggling with a system stacked against her. Showing from the inside the frustrations of her situation, with endless forms and extensive waiting lists, Herself also allows central character Sandra a heartfelt monologue about the hypocrisy and patriarchy at the center of her battle -- a moment of rousing passion that comes after she is asked why she didn't leave her abusive husband sooner. "Ask better questions," she begins.

Though the story is often bleak, there are small victories throughout with so many people willing to show love and support that Sandra's world moves from feeling dark and oppressive to light and hopeful in an instant. There is a wonderful sense of warmth and camaraderie between Sandra and her two daughters (played convincingly and with impressive intricacy by Molly McCann and Ruby Rose O'Hara), as well as the ragtag team of builders she acquires to achieve her dream. There are more than a few hurdles along the way, but the film ends with an overriding feeling that Sandra has developed a sense of self-belief that means she will always get back up and take on the world fighting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the struggles Sandra faces in Herself. How does perseverance, courage, and teamwork all help her overcome these hurdles? Why are these important character strengths to have?

  • Talk about the domestic violence in the movie. How did those scenes make you feel? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Talk about the strong language used in the movie. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?

  • What did the new house represent for Sandra and her daughters? Discuss the idea of what a "home" means to people.

  • Discuss the positive characters in the movie and how they help Sandra. There might be more than you think!

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