His & Hers opens with the old Irish Proverb “A man loves his girlfriend the
most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest”. Director Ken Wardrop
has created a poetic documentary exploring the relationship between men and
women in the Irish Midlands, with a film consisting of successive interviews
with females, from young to old.
The youngest girls talk about their fathers, and the oldest ladies
reflect on their dead husbands.
Quietness permeates the entire eighty odd minutes of the film, and
still waters run deep. Many of the
disjointed anecdotes and insights into the private lives and inner workings of
different families are sobering and affecting. One of the women interviewed is the director’s mother, and
it is curious to think why he wanted to make this film. It is clearly very personal, and
introspective in an explorative way.
The cinematography is striking, and deliberately places the
interviewees in awkward positions within the frame, as if displaying them in
their natural environments, like specimens in a museum accompanied by
photographs of their native habitats (mostly immaculate middle class
homes). We see them going about
their everyday activities as the audio of the interviews plays
continuously. Teens text and
giggle, mothers iron and fuss, and the elderly sit and ponder.
Many might find the slow nature of the film to bore them, but
patient viewers will find a lot for their minds to chew on. The subtle use of music adds poignancy
in key places, and the film leaves you with chilling as well as cheering
thoughts, such as how we must all one day let our families go when the time
comes for us to die. Or how our youths cover at most a mere third of our whole
Often funny, particularly in the early stages when the youngest
participants are laughing and enjoying talking about their brothers, fathers,
and soon of course boyfriends, the film manages to remain mostly entertaining. At almost an hour and a half long
however certain stretches do drag, and one might think that the film could have
been more effective had it been briefer, perhaps giving it a greater urgency,
and to cater to the average attention span.
What comes across most clearly is how different men and women are,
and Wardrop successfully hones in on the ways in which the opposite sexes need
each other, and how they cope with each other. The way in which mothers and wives recollect flaws in their
close male relatives not with bitterness or judgment but with fondness and
understanding is both touching and somehow reassuring.
The harrowing conclusion may provoke both the positive impulse to
take action and the negative impulse to despair. His & Hers is
a fairly concise and interesting film providing food for thought, especially
for those with aging female relatives and also those who simply want to
understand the opposite sex better, be they male or female.