Sébastien Lifshitz’s documentary is frank and truthful. There is an honesty and a spirit that every individual shares, which carries through every story told and every soul who tells them. For a documentary it is rather long. At almost two hours in length, I was expecting parts of the film to drag. Yet, there is no section worth cutting and no story that could have been told in a shorter or more precise way. It is a moving and insightful study of several individuals who chose to live, openly, with their homosexuality in a time when society rejected them. The documentary deals with a score of elderly French men and women who lived in France during the last half a century and dealt with rejection, prejudice, liberation and sexual exploration. Everyone interviewed is different; some are couples and some are singles. Some have been open about their sexuality since their youth and others have only truly faced it in recent years. From a romantic couple who met in their later years, to a single lesbian who reminisces about her many love affairs and sexual experiences, to a content goat farmer who has enjoyed many men and women, to a woman who finally experienced her lesbianism after many years of marriage and several children, there is a story here to touch and move everyone.
Lifshitz uses a wonderful balance of both interviewing and observing in order to capture the spirits and personalities he is filming. After Pierrot discusses his early sexual experiences we watch him herding his goats; cursing them when they won’t obey. It is seeing Pierrot in his charming, comical day to day life that reveals him to us as much as the interviews do. It is fascinating to hear the life stories of partners Bernard and Jacques but it is equally moving to witness them pottering around their kitchen, nagging each other and discussing birds that land on their windowsill. Some stories and uplifting and inspiring and others are full of sorrow and hurt. When all of these combine we are left with two hours of documented history that has, until now, hardly been acknowledged. Les Invisibles is a painful, charismatic and highly emotional piece of cinema; beautifully crafted and eloquently delivered.
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