"You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply..."
If there is one thing that Gaylene Preston's new film tells us about the experiences of women in World War Two—it's that those oft-sung 'fundamentals' are actually hard to identify. In War Stories (Our Mothers Never Told Us), grand narratives are evident only for their conspicuous absence. 'The War' becomes not unlike the absorbent black velvet curtain that fills Preston's frame-a backdrop against which some seven women's personal stories might momentarily shimmer in a belated but timely retelling.
Emerging from research Preston conducted for last year's festival fave, Bread and Roses, this documentary is both an intimate portrait of individual hardship and a quiet insight into the asperities of intimacy itself. One by one Pamela, Flo, Tui, Jean, Rita, Neva and Mabel confess the details of loves lost and found and maybe lost again,- of lives spent in regret or in spite of it. For some of them, there is pain in the remembrance of what would rather be forgotten. For others, the very act of revelation is an uncomfortable moment of confrontation, a visible battlefield in a narrative no man's land locked somewhere between introspection and retrospection.