Beautiful in its simplicity, Ken Wardrop's masterful feature-length debut 'His & Hers' delights in what is said and left unsaid, and is sure to have a lasting effect on anyone who is fortunate enough to stumble across it.
Featuring over 70 women of different ages from across the Midlands, the documentary opens with a newborn baby girl, and then moves along chronologically, often seamlessly so, through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, motherhood and on to old age.
Prefaced with the quote: "A man loves his girlfriend the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest", this touching documentary doesn't feature a single male in the whole cast. However, in a wry twist, those featured only speak of one thing: the men in their lives. From the children who talk of their father telling them to clean their rooms or do jobs in the garden, to the elderly woman who talks about the husband she lost or the son who visits her, this documentary reveals all about their subjects through the discussion of the opposite sex.
There are plenty of quaint, funny scenes along the way, like the teenage girl who has just received a text asking her to a disco and can't contain her mixture of happiness and embarrassment, or the mother of a teenage boy describing his room and his habits. Set in kitchens, halls and the odd back garden, all the girls and women feature for roughly one or two minutes, and despite the shortness of their screen time, Wardrop manages to capture at least one aspect of his subjects' lives.
Like some Joycean piece of work, it is when 'His & Hers' is taken cumulatively that this documentary is at its most powerful. As youth gives way to old age, the audience is greeted with what could be one person's life, including all the happiness and sadness along the way. There are, indeed, moments of great poignancy, as a woman recounts how her husband died after one final dance with her, or how another describes the loneliness of losing her loved one. Even as 'His & Hers' ambles towards old age, however, there are still many moments of tender comedy to savour, and throughout the good times outweigh the bad, much as is the way in life.
You probably won't see a more thoughtful and touching documentary this year. The type of movie that has you leaving the cinema lost in your own mind, it really is a triumph, and deserving of the critical acclaim it has already received. For men out there, it also has the added bonus of offering an insight into the most fascinating and puzzling enigma of all: the Irish woman.