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Herself In 2008, opera director Phyllida Lloyd’s pop-cornball big-screen debut, “Mamma Mia!,” more than earned its Herself exclamation point, grossing upwards of $600 million worldwide. Three years later, her more serious-minded follow-up, “The Iron Lady,” earned Meryl Streep an Oscar. Most people would agree that was a not-too-shabby start for a helmer of any gender. But instead of making another movie, Lloyd went back to the stage, directing a trio of statement-making all-female Shakespeare productions.

Still, one wonders whether Lloyd’s sabbatical from cinema was by her own choice or by forces that seem none too keen on privileging women’s stories. Now she’s back with a movie called “Herself,” which is head-and-shoulders the strongest of the 20 Sundance films I’ve seen so far. It’s small and stars no one that anyone in Hollywood would consider “bankable,” but I’m convinced this inspirational Dublin-set drama could go all the way: a timely, empowering story about a battered wife who builds her own house, and the decent folks who come to her aid in that endeavor. Don’t be surprised if people are still talking about “Herself” this time next year, when Lloyd could be the sixth woman to break the Oscars’ glass ceiling — that is, assuming the right distributor recognizes the niche this film fills, and how brilliantly Lloyd does it.

Duration: 97 min


IMDb: 7.1