Monday, January 25, 2010

His & Hers (Sundance Review)

What’s the best way to learn about women? Some would say it's by listening to women. Documentarian Ken Wardrop constructed his first feature-length film, His & Hers, by doing just that. Opening with a beautiful infant as she rolls around in her crib, the filmmaker compiles bits and pieces of interviews and stories and advice and complaints from seventy-six women from the Irish midlands. The youngest girls talk about their fathers and how cleaning your room is such a bother, especially when your sister can’t be bothered to help. The young women talk about boys. Those new to adulthood talk about wedding plans, pregnancies, and independence. As the film progresses, so do the ages of the subjects. Once a woman’s shown on camera, she’s never shown again. Each interview builds on those preceding. The result is seventy-six women, telling a single story, both separately and together, about life.

Surprisingly, the formula never grows tiresome. Staying with each woman for no longer than a few minutes, the film hits a rhythm where an interesting aspect or insight about a woman’s life is revealed, discussed, and/or observed and the narrative continues. These insights range from marital advice to revelations about coping and loss. With the exception of a couple women, the narrative primarily sticks to women and the opposite sex. Tales of fathers, boyfriends, and husbands, both living and passed on, are interwoven to create a powerful love story with all the pieces intact. Girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, etc. And while each woman contributes to the same story, the film’s purpose isn’t to show how similar women are to one another. His & Hers highlights the connectivity that people have with one another. These women can help tell the same story, not because they are the same person, or even the same type of person, but because this is a story that almost all people can tell.

Also, a quick side note: if the woman on the big blue tractor somehow happens to read this review, you should know that my wife and I think you’re rad.

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