This award-laden documentary by Ken Wardrup (‘Undressing My Mother’, ‘The Herd’) and Andrew Freedman of  Venom Film, starring 70 women from the Irish Midlands, is a portrait of Irish women as they share in a frank, funny and gracious story of their relationships with men from childhood to dating and marriage to old age. From kitchens, living rooms, and hallways across the Irish Midlands, ‘His & Hers’ combines observation and charm to tell a 90-year-old love story through the voices of 70 women.

An intimate gender and cultural snapshot that explores a woman’s relationships with the men in her life – father, boyfriend, husband, and son. Following sequentially from little girl to old woman, each character portrait is woven with the others into one well-crafted cinematic quilt.

Although I admire the idea and the way it is executed, I do have some reservations about it. First of all, it is extremely site-specific and at times I found it very hard to identify with these women – their lives were so remote from my reality they might as well have been a group of tribes people from South America. I find it hard to believe that in 2011 there are still people whose main focus appear to be who you’re dating/marrying, when the baby’s planned/coming and whether you prefer your potatoes chipped or mashed. Creativity apparently starts and ends with either flower arranging in church or attempting to play an instrument. The incidental music underscored these rather banal and seemingly willfully narrow lives in the most trying way. You felt like shaking the smiling Stepford wives, girlfriends and daughters to try to make them see the wealth of variety and adventures available to us humans.

But then, just as I was surreptitiously gathering my bags to make a break for the border, what happened on the screen was a moment so heartbreaking and beautiful that I was wiping tears from my eyes. I am glad I stayed as ‘His & Hers’ is definitely worth watching. Especially the older women are great, feisty and straightforward. Maybe there’s something to be said for life lived small after all.

The UK release of ‘His & Hers’ is 11th March 2011

Words by Anna Bang

Tags

Andrew Freedman, His & Hers, Ken Wardrup, Venom Film,