Les Invisibles is an entertaining, alluringly scenic, but structurally loose documentary exploring the lives of a group of gay men and women born between World War I & II, by filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz (Come Undone, Wild Side).
The film unveils an extraordinary cast of characters. They are extraordinary not only for the role they played in transforming the world into one tolerant of homosexuality, but for the sheer strength of their personalities. The film opens with a humorously touching scene between Yann & Pierre, a couple of deeply contrasting personalities who have found harmony living in rural France. The scene sets the tone for the film, which develops its visual tableau of rural sights and sounds as each new interview emerges.
It is this setting for the series of interviews compiled by Lifshitz that solidifies the central consideration: that homosexuality is indeed a part of nature. The best example of this is goat farmer Pierrot, an utterly remarkable man with an extraordinarily vivid sexual history. A similar younger man might be judged as promiscuous, but this seems an inappropriate term here; this is a man who has lived life to the full through and with his numerous partners.
But the film is not limited to the natural experience of sexuality. The politics of sex are, quite naturally, a prominent force. Represented largely by the women Therese and Monique we learn how these individuals helped push women’s rights on a wider level (including the pro-choice debate), regardless of sexual orientation.
At just under two hours Les Invisibles feels occasionally lacking in narrative drive, as it relies on the strength of the interviews to sustain the duration. However, the film’s loose construction never undermines the massive importance of the material and the utterly endearing cast of characters, making for a truly memorable and affecting work.