For an Irish movie site I never get to focus enough on Irish movies. Largely they are a disappointment so when a good one comes along it’s a glorious day. What we have here however is not just a good one. It’s a magnificent one.
What would happen if you got a bunch of women, ranging in age from late teens to nearly 100, to express their views on the men in their lives, the nature of their relationships and the effect on their lives? From this extraordinarily simple premise His & Hers is born. Film-maker Ken Wardrop takes 70 women and 80 minutes to explore the very nature of the male/female interaction. The women talk about their fathers, their lovers, their sons and their brothers, giving a vibrant and emotionally powerful picture of live, love and everything in between.
The women, who all come from the Irish midlands, are the stars of the show. Each one a character in their own right, some melancholy, some hilarious, some just plain mad, but all engaging and real. The younger girls show the flush of youth, the optimism, the naivety and the scaredness that accompanies first love and loss. The older women show the maturity, understanding, compassion and remorse that comes from a fuller live. All are open in their responses, eager even to instil their wisdoms and experiences unto others.
The director has taken these women’s stories and shaped and moulded them into something beautiful. The tone is always optimistic, even as women talk of the death of loved ones, and there’s an emotional undercurrent that grips the audience and holds on tight. Documentaries often suffer from the need by their creators to skew the events/stories to suit their predefined plans, but this never feels like that. It’s as if Wardrop took his dailies and saw a conscious pattern emerge that would frame his film perfectly. His use of humour after strong emotional scenes restores balance without puncturing the narrative. This takes a very fine film-maker indeed.
I hope that this movie gets the audience that it deserves as it is easily the best Irish made film in years. Some men will find a documentary focusing solely on women a little off-putting but it shouldn’t be. What Wardrop has made here is a film that resonates with both genders and shows us exactly how much we mean to one another. Hope for humanity lies within.