Men are entirely absent and yet everywhere in this Irish documentary, which opens with a crusty proverb – ‘A man loves his girlfriend the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.’ Seventy women in total – beginning with little girls babbling about their daddies – talk to the camera about the men in their lives. Teenagers gush over texts from boys, a mother giggles about her toddler son’s obsession with lipstick, fathers die – then husbands. They’re filmed inside their houses (pristine all of them) with deceptive simplicity: towards the end, a retired lady still raw with grief after her husband’s death makes the bed: just one pillow now instead of two. It’s heartbreaking, and you would need to be made of stone not to be charmed by the wit and warmth of these women. And yet, while interviewing this many people without a central theme would have been as chaotic an enterprise as herding cats, my hackles rise at a portrait of lives spent loving, worrying about, grieving for and raising men, to the exclusion of anything – mothers, work, daughters, girlfriends – that doesn’t have a Y chromosome.
Friday March 11 2011
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