Friday, 12 October 2018

She Shears: Film Review

She Shears: Film Review

Director Jack Nicol's She Shears has ambitions.

But it seems primarily these ambitions are confined to presenting a story rather than digging a little deeper.

Entrenched in bucolic touches, She Shears takes a look at the sport of sheep shearing, an industry dominated by men back in the 80s and now seeing an increase in the number of women taking part.

In the 80s, it was 1 woman in 5000, now it's 1 in 40, so there's clearly been a sea change in righting the gender imbalance.

She Shears: NZIFF Review

Following five shearers, two of whom are established names - Emily Welch, and Jills Angus Burney - 
She Shears is a pleasant doco that is graced by some stunning cinematography and slow mo shots of the work being done.

It takes a look at this quintet as they look to either enter the world of competitive sheep shearing (Hazel, Pagan and Catherine being the youngest and newest) and their drive and reasons to do so. It goes some way to give us their backstories on the Road To The Golden Shears competition held in Masterton with Pagan's history being the most intriguing thanks to the traditional sports underdog /hit by injury story.

However, it's potentially fair to say that perhaps She Shears should have narrowed its focus a little more on maybe three of these competitors as some have longer in the spotlight than others, and certainly, given the way the competition pans out, not everyone gets to where they want.

It's a frustration to be borne with She Shears - and certainly, the focus feels a little more like it could have done better to spotlight the problems of getting women into this industry.

All five talk of various levels of discrimination in among the support as well - and it's at this stage, the most intriguing and strongest element of the doco emerges that could have provided a sharp sting in a post MeToo world.

Certainly there's great disparity on display when the commentators of the Golden Shears markedly and pointedly refer to the male and female competitors in different terms. "Two little girls there" is the worst offender and points to some signs the entrenched sexism exists within - certainly, there's no diminutives levelled at the male competitors. It's a shame this narrative isn't expanded out, and Nicol's spotlight wasn't shined more at this, because it provides a stronger proposition to the film as it goes on. (And is mentioned by all five in their careers and how people view it).

That said, Nicol gives his doco a wondrously filmic approach in its shots of competition, with wool being flung in slow motion, shears guided around hindquarters and sweat dripping from competitors all looking glorious in slow mo and on the big screen. Nothing's been held back in ensuring the look of this generally pleasant piece is anything but top notch.

Ultimately, She Shears feels like a doco that slightly tracked down the wrong way for its focus. Granted, it gives the women competitors their time in the spotlight, and while narrowing that focus may have paid dividends, it does show that when it comes to showcasing and capturing the countryside, its animals and its people, Nicol has a sharp eye for what looks sensational on screen. 

No comments:

Post a comment