Movies: His & Hers * * * *
(G, limited release)
During the past five or six years, Ken Wardrop has been impressing both here and abroad with his short films, which tellingly combine wit, insight and a simple but effective visual style.
This clarity of focus is very much to the fore in this, his first full feature, an ambitious documentary that takes as its focus Irish females in love.
Working for budgetary reasons within a 50-mile radius of Rhode in Co Offaly, Wardrop and his producer Andrew Freedman went about meeting (for the most part) strangers and asking them to talk about their lives. The result of such a far-reaching canvass could easily have been a muddled mess: instead, it's a little gem and a strong contender for Irish film of the year.
Working chronologically, His & Hers interviews a cross-section of Irish girls and women ranging in age from five or six to 90, and at first you wonder if it's going to go anywhere at all. Cute little girls raising their eyes to heaven about their father or earnestly discussing the shortcomings of their little brother are all very well, but suggest Wardrop's film might tend towards the sentimental and the trite.
Not a bit of it, however, because His & Hers hits its stride once it reaches the perma-texting midlands teenagers, and thereafter builds a cumulative force that reaches its crescendo in the reflections of the elderly.
Wardrop and his crew would appear to be adept at putting people at ease, because the unself-conscious naturalness of almost all their subjects is striking.
The girls and women talk frankly, humorously and sometimes disparagingly about their men. But what emerges is a sense of the kind of solid bond that keeps men and women together through all the trials that life can throw at them.