Les short documentary film review

★★★

Directed by: #OliviaBernhardtBrogan

Written by: #OliviaBernhardtBrogan

Starring: #Jean and #Les

Film Review by: Bruna Foletto Lucas




Les is a short film directed by Olivia Bernhardt Brogan and it was part of the Shorts Block 3 at the London Independent Film Festival 2020.


In this documentary we meet Jean and Les, a married couple who, at the end of their garden, have a hand-built bird shed where they take care of dozens of pigeons. In an interview-style documentary, Jean tells us how Les tricked her into having the birds at home long ago and, although it is hard to imagine myself having a good reaction if I were her, Jean and Les remember the story with such contagious fondness that we lose ourselves in the story and put away our judgements.


I have seldom seen films like Les – it manages to tell an “irrelevant” and particular story, but through its lenses the story takes enormous proportions that last a lifetime, and which, in turn, manage to be relatable to us all.


Les sees his pigeons as “athletes” with multiple prizes he cherishes. He has devoted his whole life to it - as Jean puts it, he is an “addict”. Unfortunately, there are some consequences to it, Les’s whole life comes in second, and thus his relationships with his kids were to some extent hurt by his passion. It may sound strange, or even ludicrous, to imagine this situation, but as Les puts it himself it is an odd thing to explain if you have never done it.


The camera in this documentary is objective – we are solely observing Les and the pigeons, we see the affection he has when he cares for them. This makes it so that Les’s “weird passion” becomes identifiable – we all have something which we care about and maybe have been deemed as “weird”, but for some reason it is so dear to us. Here caring for pigeons is equal to collecting coins, stamps, cars... it doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is how universal and familiar the feeling is. In turn, so is Jean’s response to it – she loves Les and is accepting of his quirks in the name of love.


With Les Olivia Bernhardt Brogan has taken this singular story and has turned into a mundane narrative we can all relate to, demystifying the aura of “strange” that surrounds Les’s passion.