Sundance 2010: “His and Hers” film review 2

PARK CITY, Utah — Irish documentarian Ken Wardrop’s film "His and Hers" opens with an Irish proverb:

"A man loves his girlfriend the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest."

While that may suggest that Wardrop’s documentary would focus on Irish men, it turns the proverb on its head and focuses on Irish women and their relationship to the men that they hold sway over.

Wardrop’s film is made up of vignettes featuring 90 women (ages one to 90) from the Midlands of Ireland who each represent an age. Wardrop asks each woman about their relationships with the men in their lives.

The results are simply wonderful. Wardrop does a tremendous job framing his movie in a way that each vignette flows seamlessly into the next. He uses the effective technique of having most of his subjects enter and exit through stairs. The film opens with a toddler opening a safety gate and climbing the stairs with quite determination. Each subsequent shot of older girls calls back to that first mischievous toddler and suggests the experiences each of these women have had since they too were crawling carelessly past gates designed to project their fragility.

From a little girl lamenting her chores to a woman whose husband dies in her arms after a slow dance, the honesty and openness Wardrop gets from his subjects is stunning.

Through each of the 90 vignettes, Wardrop is able to show what has Irish men so smitten. These women are all funny, engaging and emotionally honest. As you get to know these women it is no surprise that Irish men love their women so much.While the film only contains one brief shot of a man, the men in these women’s lives comes through in their stories.

Like the women Wardrop features, "His and Hers" is funny, moving and always affecting. If this one makes it to a theater anywhere near you, I strongly recommend it.