Films in which a lesbian relationship forms a central role have been popular for decades - look at 1968's The Killing of Sister George - and their popularity has grown over the years, and seems to be still growing. This article looks at ten very different examples of the genre, from comedy to tragedy.
Ten Best Lesbian Movies of All Time
What is the best lesbian movie of all time? A look at ten strong contenders.
Some of the best lesbian movies
What is a lesbian movie? For the purpose of this article, it is a film in which a lesbian relationship or the subject of lesbianism is central to the plot. The ten selected range from the gritty crime thriller Bound and the comedies of But I’m a Cheerleader and Imagine Me and You to the tragedy of The Ice Palace and the drama of The Killing of Sister George.
The films are listed here in alphabetical order and many will probably disagree with this selection, so feel free to make other suggestions in the comments box below.
The Wachowski brothers directed this film about mafia moll Violet (played by Jennifer Tilly) who falls for neighbour Corky (played by Gina Gershon) and they plot to steal two million dollars of mafia money. Feminist writer and sex educator Susie Bright choreographed the sex scenes and the extras in a gay bar are Susie Bright’s lesbian friends from San Francisco.
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
A romcom with a difference. When cheerleader Megan Bloomfield’s (played by Natasha Lynne) friends think she might be gay because she’s a vegetarian they send her to a residential home to cure her homosexuality. Rather than cure her, the camp serves to awaken her till-now hidden lesbian feelings. The result is a very colourful and funny poke at the anti-gay movement. Click here for a more detailed review of the film.
Came Out, It Rained, Went Back in Again (1991)
This made-for-TV movie stars Jane Horrocks, a young lesbian who decides it is time to come out and goes to explore the London lesbian scene. This lovely comedy manages in just ten minutes to explore all the frustrations and obstacles as she tries to find a route to reveal her sexuality.
Go Fish (1994)
The film follows the lives of five women in Chicago, one of whom – Max (played by Guinevere Turner) – has not had a date in ten months and is griping about the problems of being a single lesbian. Her friends play cupid and try to match her up with Ely (played by VS Brodie). The film is both funny and challenging at the same time.
Imagine Me and You (2005)
Rachel (played by Piper Perabo) is marrying Hector (played by Matthew Goode) but on her wedding day she meets Luce (played by Lena Headey) and their new friendship develops into something more. This romcom has very quickly built up a loyal cult following.
Show Me Love (1998)
Lukas Moodysson directed this Swedish film about shy schoolgirl Agnes (played by Rebecka Liljeberg), who is teased by others in her class including Elin (played by Alexandra Dahlström), who in contrast is very outgoing with lots of friends. Elin discovers that Agnes has a crush on her and is curious to explore this more. It was released in most countries under the title Show Me Love because the original Swedish title contains the F word.
Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
After a number of unsuccessful blind dates with men, Jessica Stein (played by Jennifer Westfeldt) decides to answer a small ad from Helen Cooper (played by Heather Juergensen), a bisexual who wants a lesbian relationship. Though their romance develops, Jessica is nervous about same-sex intimacy and about revealing her relationship to others.
The Ice Palace (Is-Slottet) (1987)
Based on the novel of the same title by Tarjei Vesaas, this Norwegian film tells the story of eleven-year-old Siss (played by Line Storesund) who has growing attraction for new girl in the village Umm (played by Hilde Nyeggen Martinsen). Umm, however, is embarrassed by their initial encounter and decides to skip school the next day with tragic consequences.
The Killing of Sister George (1968)
June Buckridge (played by Beryl Reid) is a TV actress playing Sister George in the soap opera Applehurst, but when she realises her character is about to be killed off it puts a strain on her relationship with Alice “Childie” MacNaught (played by Susannah York). The love triangle is completed when radio executive Mercy Croft (played by Coral Browne) decides to help out.
Two Girls (2005)
Directed by Kutlug Ataman, Two Girls (or 2 Girls) is based on the novel by Perihan Magden. Girl one is Behiye (played by Feride Cetin), who lives with her parents and older brother, whom she hates with a vengance. Girl two is Handan (played by Vildan Atasever), who lives with her mother who in turn sells herself to raise money for Handan's university fees. The two meet and hit it off. Behiye runs away from home, stealing a large amount of her brother's money, and moves in with Handan and her mother, who is not totally happy with the situation.
Best Lesbian Film of All Time
It was quite hard to pick a favourite out of the top ten. Bound was enthralling and But I’m a Cheerleader was a lovely, funny tale. Overall though, Show Me Love wins out for combining realism with entertainment. Don’t forget to use the comments box to suggest other candidates for the top ten.