As a bisexual girl who practically grew up watching random films on the internet I’ve seen a lot of LGBT films. Queer cinema is a genre that I still adore today, so I’ve put together my top 5 LGBT films!
1. Call Me By Your Name
I’m not usually one to buy into movie hype, but boy were people right about this film. I’d heard Call Me By Your Name talked about a lot but never really thought it would be that good. Once I’d seen the trailer I was totally convinced I’d love it! This film is touching, utterly beautiful, and manages to capture every ounce of feeling that is your first love. Directed by Luca Guadagnino and with the screenplay written by James Ivory (more on him later) the film has this wonderful atmosphere to it.
Although it’s only 2 hours long it truly does feel like a saga of discovery. This film is not a cliche, whilst many coming of age LGBT films feel like the same overplayed story line Call Me By Your Name is refreshing and truly a beautiful work of art, not just a movie. I can’t coherently explain how much I loved this film, I’ve already watched it a second time in 24 hours. You have to see this. Be ready to cry.
When I discovered Maurice I felt like it was a film I’d been missing all of my life. I used to binge LGBT films when I was a kid, I’d stay up late scouring the internet for any film I could relate to. Whilst 90s gay coming of age films are great, they often lacked some depth. Maurice is nothing short of breathtaking.
Set in the 1910s the film follows the titular Maurice as he grows from a young university student to an adult. Falling in love with his best friend along the way. The film addresses not on sexuality but also the concrete divides in the British class system. It’s comprised of sweeping shots of landscapes, a beautiful soundtrack and a stark look at the relationships of early 20th century men.
Many LGBT films feel sterile, because they’re made by non-lgbt people, however this isn’t the case for Maurice. James Ivory adapted the film from it’s namesake book and did such an excellent job of it. In every scene on the film you can see how much painstaking detail was put into accurately adapting the book to film. This is one where I’d 100% reading the book and watching the film.
3. The Handmaiden
If strong and vengeful female leads are your thing then you’re in for a treat! The Handmaiden has been adapted countless times but this version really stands out to me. It’s directed by Park Chan-Wook and is an unbelievably complex, macabre, and beautiful take on the story. At a whopping 2 hours 47 minutes long it goes into great detail and focuses on making a suspenseful and puzzling film.
The soundtrack and cinematography are to die for! If you like more complex plots with your lesbian romances then this is the one for you. My one complaint is that I felt the main relationship could have been established better. There’s a lot of debate around the sex scenes in this film and whether they prominently feature the male gaze. To me they do, but many others disagree. That aside the film is a brilliant psychological thriller and will leave you guessing what’s going to happen next.
4. Laurence Anyways
Written and directed by Xaiver Dolan, Laurence Anyways is a phenomenal film about a trans woman and her struggle to embrace her identity whilst navigating her relationship. The film came out in 2012 and was one of the first films I saw that I felt captured the complexity of gender identity. For me struggling with my gender in 2012 I felt like there was practically zero relatable films about gender…and then this was released!
If you’ve not seen one of Dolan’s films before this is most definitely a strong place to start. All of his work is highly stylised and, nothing short of amazing. Heartbreaking, funny, intelligent, quizzical this film is it all. Just be prepared to sob your eyes out.
5. Cucumber, Banana, Tofu
This is a tv series not a film, whoops!
Cucumber, Banana, and Tofu are three mini-series created by Russel T.Davies. Cucumber and Banana are separate shows with overlapping characters and storylines. Whilst Cucumber has a very strict narrative arch Banana focuses on telling separate stories of a wider range of people.
Both shows provide a modern and refreshing take on queer lifestyles, and not just from the typical white-male perspective. The shows are a frank and unfiltered look at LGBT life from so many perspectives. Each episode brings a new discussion to the table. Although there are many light or comical moments the shows tackle hard hitting issues.
As for Tofu it’s a short documentary/interview series that explores sexuality and intimacy. Each episode real people are interviewed about their thoughts on sexuality. It’s not necessary to watch with the other two shows, however it both compliments them and works well by itself.
Honourable Mention: Hanna
Okay, straight up this one isn’t a LGBT film. But I’m giving it an honourable mention for the way it handles sexuality. I distinctly remember Hanna being the first time I’d ever seen two girls kiss in a box office film.
The film itself is about a young teen, Hanna, raised by her father and trained to be the ultimate spy and assassin. My description doesn’t do it much justice but Hanna is a harrowing and beautiful tale about growing up and the impact of early trauma. In addition to this the heartfelt friendship that develops between Hanna and Sophie is nothing short of lovely. Although this isn’t a LGBT film the relationship between the two girls was the first of the kind I’d seen on film and was definitely relatable to be as a young bisexual girl.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list, it was super hard to round down my favourites! What’re your favourite LGBT films and have you seen any of the ones I’ve mentioned?
I’ve tried to be as inclusive as possible with this list, but I’ll admit I’ve not see many women-centric LGBT films, compared to those I’ve seen about gay men. Those that I have seem are often…subpar. In addition to that I’ve seen very few POC LGBT films! If I do any more lists like this I’ll strive to make them more inclusive.