Movie Review: Les invisibles (2012)

20101916Gay and wide open

In this magnificent documentary, Sébastien Lifshitz asks eight people to tell us about their lives. None of them is an art director, fashion designer, actor or journalist. None of them lives in Paris’s gay Marais nor haunts its exclusive gyms to maintain the fit body of a guy in his thirties. They are men and women aged between 70 and 80, who are single or happily living in couples, talking on their own or with their partners, about their lives as homosexuals. We know very little about them – their family names, for example, remain unknown to us.

We learn that one is a sheep farmer, while another couple owns a small goat’s cheese company. Most of them seem to have a special link with nature, far removed from the urban cliché of famous gay people as is reflected in the media. Some of them have experienced militancy in revolutionary gay movements in the 1970s, such as the FHAR (Front Homosexuel d’Action Révolutionnaire) or the GLH (Groupe de Libération Homosexuelle), but not all – if they have, they tell us about this time in a very calm and serene fashion. Of course, they sometimes talk about their experiences of discrimination that they have experienced within their families and relatives, but they have managed to make their way despite this – it does not seem to have ruined either their sexual or emotional lives.

Just as the legalization of gay weddings is a hot topic in France at the moment, sparking passionate media debates and huge demonstrations, Lifshitz’s film seems to underline how irrelevant this question might be. Paradoxically appearing deeply activist, the strength of the film resides in the fact that it underlines the banality that these men and women’s lives share with their ‘straight’ counterparts’. It also serves to remind us how close the women’s liberation and gay liberation movements have been – while displaying a quiet naturalism that is full of humour, comprising beautiful skies, sensual and sensitive shots of nature, close-ups and a family meal scene that rivals Maurice Pialat’s famous one in Loulou (1980), Lifshitz makes us wonder about the differences, if any, between these people and our own grandparents – Les invisibles could easily have shared its title with another film released earlier this year: Amour (2012).

115 mins. In French.

One thought on “Movie Review: Les invisibles (2012)”

  1. A very timely documentary by the sound of it. Any discrimination is based on ‘otherness’. By showing the normality and the very natural sentiment that is love and the desire to express that love, it makes clear who the villains are in the current debate. Those who are against gay weddings are against the right of homosexuals to love one another and to express their love in the same way heterosexuals choose to celebrate their love – they are desperate to cling on to their otherness. They may couch their arguments in different terms and strenuously deny that they are homophobes, but if someone wants to get married, let them! What’s it to them? Belgium is celebrating ten years of gay marriage this year – while not everything is perfect in the Kingdom of Belgium, this is one thing to be very proud of. I look forward to seeing the film.

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