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Best Lesbian Films Of All Time

Lesbian films have played a crucial role in representing and exploring queer experiences on the big screen. They have helped increase visibility, promote acceptance, and provide a platform for LGBTQ+ stories to be shared. And we all need a love story we can relate to right? Whether you’re a passionate advocate for queer and lesbian representation or simply a fan of beautifully crafted love stories.

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In recent years the world of cinema has released a treasure trove of lesbian movies waiting to be discovered. However, there’s still a long way to go before we get the amount we deserve. So before we give you the goods below, it’s important to support where possible and you must watch each one that comes out, upvote it on IMDB, and NEVER, EVER stream illegally. You got that?! The more we support, the more we get.

While the concept of “best” is subjective (lol), here are some widely acclaimed lesbian films that have made a significant impact. We’ve also included some epic indie lesbian films too. So get cosy and get these on. We’ve included a good selection of lesbian movies below but if we’ve missed any then do let us know by commenting at the bottom of this article and we’ll make sure it gets added. Oh, and before you make your way through the below, we update this article regularly, so add it to your bookmarks and come back often.

If you only care about where you can watch them, then head to our other article on lesbian movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Our Best Lesbian Films-List

In no particular order, we’ve listed out the top lesbian movies below and where you can stream them now.

Appropriate Behaviour

Released in 2015, this lesbian film is worth a watch. This is actress Desiree Akhavan’s debut queer indie film and you might recognise her from her series on Channel 4, The Bisexual. The Bisexual was written, directed by, and starred Akhavan. She also directed The Miseducation of Cameron Post which is another great lesbian movie, so we know she’s got the gay-ness and indie-ness covered. Tick and Tick.

Appropriate Behaviour tells the story of a twenty-something New Yorker who has just broken up with a man and decided she would like to explore her sexuality. Que some funny awkward moments.

lesbian movie Appropriate Behaviour

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Duck Butter

The story follows Naima (played by Alia Shawkat), an aspiring actress, who meets Sergio (played by Laia Costa), a singer, at a bar. Rather than following the traditional dating route, the two decide to embark on an experiment to fast-track the intimacy of a relationship. Over 24 hours, they commit to spending every minute together, sharing their most personal and unfiltered selves.

The title “Duck Butter” refers to a substance that Naima and Sergio use as a metaphor for the artificiality and lack of authenticity in typical relationships. As the hours pass, the intensity of their connection challenges the boundaries of love, trust, and vulnerability.

The film explores themes of intimacy, self-discovery, and the complexities of forming a genuine connection with another person. “Duck Butter” is known for its raw and unapologetic portrayal of relationships, and it has received attention for its innovative approach to storytelling within the romantic drama genre.

Duck Butter

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a movie about an artist, her subject, and their slow-burning, intense love affair. At the start of the film, we see Marianne teaching Art to students in Paris. One of her students is nosey and stumbles across a portrait. This portrait then transports us to the past and the love story begins.

Directed by Celine Sciamma who captures the tense anticipation between the two main characters with such elegance and class which only a female director could do.

If you like this Director why not check out her other movies, Tomboy, Water Lilies, and Girlhood.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

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The Handmaiden

Based on a book that was published in 2002 called Fingersmith. The book was originally set in Victorian England. The book and film tell a story of deception between an heiress, a conman, a pickpocket, and a pornographer. With a love story bubbling up underneath.

Director Park Chan-Wook is best known for his psychological thrillers. Renowned for his vengeance trilogy, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Oldboy, and Lady Vengeance. This film is also surreal, and violent, with a fair bit of eroticism. It’s bloody brilliant and we don’t want to give too much away so crack on and watch it.

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The Duke of Burgundy

This is about two women within a BDSM relationship, unlike Fifty Shades of Grey, this film is told as if it were a lucid, gothic, sex dream in which you might wake up confused and in a hot sweat. The story centres around Evelyn who comes to clean Cynthia’s ivy-covered mansion (somewhere in Europe in possibly the 70s) and in underwear every day, she is then told it isn’t good enough.

The dreamlike world that Peter Strickland creates is completely void of any men. Even though this erotica is directed from a male perspective there’s no nudity, the sex is about mutual pleasure and tenderness (unlike some other lesbian films directed by men), so make sure you check this one out.

The Duke of Burgundy

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Princess Cyd

Princess Cyd came out in 2017 and was only released on iTunes and Amazon. It is a coming-of-age story about the relationship between Cyd and her aunt. The story is about Cyd who goes to stay in Chicago to escape her depressed Dad. She stays with her aunt, who’s a writer. Cyd embarks on a romantic relationship with a lesbian barista. It’s a slow but touching story on lesbian relationships, and we’d like to mention the appearance of a lesbian in a tux.

Princess Cyd

Disobedience

Disobedience” is a 2017 romantic lesbian drama film directed by Sebastián Lelio, based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Naomi Alderman. The film explores themes of religion, sexuality, and societal expectations.

The story revolves around Ronit Krushka (played by Rachel Weisz), a photographer living in New York, who returns to her Orthodox Jewish community in North London after the death of her estranged father, a prominent rabbi. Ronit left the community years ago after a scandal involving her romantic relationship with Esti Kuperman (played by Rachel McAdams), a childhood friend and the wife of her cousin Dovid (played by Alessandro Nivola).

As Ronit reconnects with her past, she discovers that the feelings between her and Esti are still very much alive. The film explores the tension between personal desires and the expectations and constraints imposed by the conservative religious community. The characters grapple with issues of identity, love, and the consequences of going against societal norms.

Disobedience

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But I’m a Cheerleader

But I’m a Cheerleader” is a 1999 satirical romantic comedy film directed by Jamie Babbit. The film is known for its colourful and exaggerated approach to addressing themes of sexual identity, conversion therapy, and societal expectations.

The story centres around Megan Bloomfield, played by Natasha Lyonne, a high school cheerleader whose friends and family suspect that she might be a lesbian. Concerned about Megan’s perceived deviation from societal norms, her friends and family stage an intervention, leading to Megan being sent to True Directions, a conversion therapy camp aimed at “curing” individuals of their homosexuality.

At True Directions, Megan is introduced to a series of gender-normative activities and therapy sessions led by the camp’s strict director, Mary Brown, played by Cathy Moriarty. Despite the camp’s efforts to change her sexual orientation, Megan finds herself developing feelings for another camper, Graham Eaton, portrayed by Clea DuVall.

But I'm a Cheerleader

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Blue Is the Warmest Color

Blue Is the Warmest Color” (French: “La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2”) is a 2013 French romantic drama film directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. The film is based on the graphic novel “Blue Is the Warmest Color” by Julie Maroh and is known for its intense and emotionally charged portrayal of a love story between two young women.

The film follows the journey of Adèle (played by Adèle Exarchopoulos), a high school student, as she navigates her coming-of-age and self-discovery. Adèle’s life takes a transformative turn when she encounters Emma (played by Léa Seydoux), a blue-haired art student with a vibrant personality.

The narrative unfolds over several years, chronicling the passionate and tumultuous relationship between Adèle and Emma. The film explores the complexities of love, desire, and identity as Adèle grapples with her sexuality and societal expectations.

Blue is the warmest colour actresses

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Carol

Carol is a 2015 romantic drama film directed by Todd Haynes, based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel “The Price of Salt.” The film is set in the 1950s and explores the romantic relationship between two women amidst societal norms and expectations.

The story follows Therese Belivet (played by Rooney Mara), a young photographer and aspiring set designer working in a department store, and Carol Aird (played by Cate Blanchett), an older woman going through a divorce. The two women meet and develop a connection that evolves into a deep and passionate romantic relationship.

As their bond deepens, they face societal pressures, legal challenges, and personal struggles related to their sexuality. The film delicately explores the complexities of love, desire, and the challenges of pursuing a relationship outside of societal norms.

Carol

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The Feels

Directed by Jenée LaMarque, this comedy-drama revolves around a bachelorette weekend where Andi surprises her partner, Lu, by revealing she’s never had an orgasm. As their friends gather, the weekend takes unexpected turns and forces the couple to confront their insecurities. “The Feels” offers a lighthearted yet insightful exploration of sexuality and communication.

The Feels

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The Watermelon Woman

Directed by Cheryl Dunye, this pioneering film is a semi-autobiographical exploration of the filmmaker’s journey to uncover the story of an elusive Black actress from the 1930s known only as the “Watermelon Woman.” Mixing fiction and documentary elements, the film tackles race, sexuality, and the lack of representation in mainstream media.

The Watermelon Woman

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Pariah

Directed by Dee Rees, this American drama follows Alike, a young Black lesbian navigating her identity and relationships in a predominantly heterosexual environment. The film explores themes of self-discovery, family acceptance, and finding one’s voice. “Pariah” received critical acclaim for its authentic representation and heartfelt performances.

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Butterfly (Hu Die)

This Hong Kong film tells the story of two women, Flavia and Yip, who navigate their evolving relationship amidst societal expectations and personal struggles. “Butterfly” is celebrated for its poetic visuals, introspective storytelling, and sensitive portrayal of same-sex love in a conservative society. Directed by Yan Yan Mak.

Bound

Directed by the Wachowskis (Lana and Lilly), this neo-noir crime thriller stars Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon as two women who plan a heist to escape their troubled lives and fall in love along the way. “Bound” is celebrated for its stylish direction, strong performances, and portrayal of a lesbian relationship in a genre typically dominated by heterosexual narratives.

Lesbian Movie | Bound Trailer

Imagine Me & You

Directed by Ol Parker, this British romantic comedy explores the complications that arise when a woman (Piper Perabo) realizes she’s attracted to a florist (Lena Headey) on her wedding day. The film is praised for its light-hearted and feel-good approach to queer love and has gained a devoted following within the lesbian community.

Lesbian Movie | Imagine Me & You Trailer

Loving Annabelle

Loving Annabelle is a 2006 American romantic drama film directed by Katherine Brooks. The film tells the story of Annabelle (Erin Kelly), a rebellious and troubled teenager, and Simone (Diane Gaidry), her strict and dedicated poetry teacher at a Catholic boarding school.

The film explores the forbidden love and emotional connection that develops between Annabelle and Simone, as they navigate their feelings amidst societal expectations, institutional constraints, and their struggles. Annabelle’s unruly behaviour and emotional instability present a challenge for Simone, who must balance her professional responsibilities with her growing affection for her student.

Lesbian Movie | Loving Annabelle

Saving Face

A romantic comedy-drama film directed by Alice Wu. The story revolves around the lives of three generations of Chinese-American women living in New York City’s Chinatown.

The film primarily focuses on the relationship between Wilhelmina “Wil” Pang (Michelle Krusiec), a young surgeon, and Vivian Shing (Lynn Chen), a ballet dancer. Wil, a closeted lesbian, struggles to come to terms with her sexual orientation while dealing with her traditional and conservative Chinese-American mother, Hwei-Lan Gao (Joan Chen).

Lesbian Movie | Saving Face

Water Lilies

Water Lillies (Original title: “Naissance des Pieuvres”) is a 2007 French coming-of-age drama film directed by Céline Sciamma. The film explores the lives of three teenage girls who navigate their burgeoning sexuality and complex emotions during a summer synchronized swimming competition.

Lesbian Movie | Water Lilies

The Kids Are All Right

This film portrays the complexities of family, love, and identity. It delves into themes of parenthood, marriage, sexual orientation, and challenges.

The Kids Are All Right is a 2010 American comedy-drama film directed by Lisa Cholodenko. The film follows the lives of a modern family headed by same-sex couple Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), who have two teenage children conceived through artificial insemination using the same sperm donor.

When their daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska) turns 18, her younger brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) convinces her to contact their sperm donor, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), against their mothers’ wishes. As Paul becomes involved in their lives, his presence starts to impact the family dynamics and exposes underlying tensions and desires within their relationships.

Lesbian Movie | The Kids Are All Right Trailer

DEBS

DEBS is a 2004 action-comedy film directed by Angela Robinson. The story follows a group of young women who are part of an elite secret spy organization known as the D.E.B.S. (Discipline, Energy, Beauty, and Strength). The D.E.B.S. are trained to fight crime and maintain justice.

The film focuses on the character of Amy Bradshaw (Sara Foster), a talented and dedicated D.E.B.S. agent who begins to question her role in the organisation after a chance encounter with Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster), a notorious criminal mastermind. As Amy and Lucy develop unexpected feelings for each other, Amy finds herself torn between her duty as a D.E.B.S. agent and her growing attraction to Lucy.

DEBS combines elements of action, comedy, and romance, offering a lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek take on the spy genre. It explores themes of identity, love, and the conflict between personal desires and professional responsibilities. With its witty dialogue and playful tone, “DEBS” offers a fresh and entertaining twist on the traditional spy movie formula.

Lesbian Movie | D.E.B.S Trailer

The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love

The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love is a 1995 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Maria Maggenti. The film follows the unlikely love story between Randy Dean (Laurel Holloman), a working-class tomboy and high school student, and Evie Roy (Nicole Ari Parker), an affluent and popular African-American girl.

Randy, a rebellious and openly lesbian teenager, finds herself drawn to Evie, who initially dismisses her advances. However, as they spend more time together, their differences begin to dissolve, and a deep emotional connection forms between them. The film explores their relationship and the challenges they face as they navigate societal expectations, family dynamics, and the prejudices they encounter.

Lesbian Movie | The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love Trailer

Desert Hearts

Desert Hearts is notable for being one of the first mainstream films to portray a lesbian relationship in a positive light.

A 1985 romantic drama film directed by Donna Deitch. Set in the 1950s, the film tells the story of Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver), a recently divorced English professor who travels to Reno, Nevada for a quick divorce. While staying at a ranch, she unexpectedly falls in love with Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau), a free-spirited and confident young woman.

As Vivian explores her newfound feelings for Cay, she begins to question societal norms and expectations. Their relationship blossoms amidst the backdrop of the conservative and traditional values of the time, leading both women to face internal conflicts and external pressures.

Lesbian Movie | Desert Hearts Trailer

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

The film delves into Anne’s complex relationships, particularly her romantic involvement with her neighbour, Ann Walker (Anna Madeley). As their connection deepens, Anne faces challenges from societal expectations, her ambitions, and the resistance of those around her who seek to suppress her true identity.

Set in the early 19th century, Anne Lister (Maxine Peake) returns to her family estate, Shibden Hall, after several years of travel. As a woman ahead of her time, she is determined to take charge of her own destiny and live according to her desires. Anne is openly lesbian and embarks on passionate affairs with women, documenting her encounters and innermost thoughts in her coded diaries.

Lesbian Movie | The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

Aimee & Jaguar

Aimee & Jaguar is a 1999 German drama film directed by Max Färberböck. Based on a true story, the film takes place in Berlin during World War II and follows the forbidden love affair between Felice Schragenheim (Maria Schrader), a Jewish woman, and Lilly Wust (Juliane Köhler), a married woman and mother who is married to a Nazi officer.

Felice, using the codename “Jaguar,” is a member of an underground anti-Nazi resistance group. She meets Lilly, known as “Aimee,” at a social gathering, and the two women are immediately drawn to each other. Despite the risks and dangers involved, they embark on a passionate love affair, finding solace and happiness in each other’s arms during a tumultuous time.

Lesbian Movie | Aimee & Jaguar Trailer

Kiss Me

A 2011 Swedish romantic lesbian film directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining. The film explores themes of love, family dynamics, and self-discovery within the context of a lesbian relationship. It’s Swedish, it’s classy, and it’s a classic.

Kiss Me follows the story of Mia (played by Ruth Vega Fernandez), who is engaged to Tim (played by Joakim Nätterqvist). Mia’s life takes an unexpected turn when she meets Frida (played by Liv Mjönes), the daughter of her father’s fiancée. The two women find themselves drawn to each other, leading to a passionate and complex love affair. As Mia grapples with her feelings and the implications for her engagement to Tim, the film explores the impact of societal expectations, familial pressures, and the pursuit of authentic love.

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Summertime – La belle saison

Set in 1970s France, Summertime follows Delphine, a young woman in her twenties, from rural France, who moves to Paris and falls passionately in love with Carole, a feminist leader. The film explores the challenge of both feminism and lesbianism in rural France in the 70s. It also includes a fair amount of sex and nudity, which is a bonus… If that’s what you’re looking for ;).

Lesbian Movie | Summertime Trailer

Me, Myself & Her – Io e lei

This Italian film breaks down the relationship between Federica and Marina. The couple is in conflict as to whether they want to be open about their relationship or keep it a secret. There’s nothing new about this film that isn’t in any other lesbian film already, but the acting is great. Oh, heads up, you’ll probs going to need subtitles.

Lesbian Movie | Me, Myself & Her Trailer

If you liked this article, why not further educate yourself in all things lesbian and read our article on Lesbian TV Shows?

If we’re missing any lesbian films from this lest, then let us know in the comments section below.

Happy watching!

Love Team Nonchalant x

Last Updated on 2nd December 2023 by Nonchalant Magazine

Nonchalant Magazine
Nonchalant Magazine

This article was written by one of our creative team writers here at Nonchalant Magazine.

2 Comments

  1. Emily
    16th June 2020 / 5:29 pm

    I can’t see any other comments – I was hoping for a passionate debate about these movies.
    So Carol – looks ravishing but cold emotionally. What is it about Carol that makes Therese fall for her?
    Disobedience – required viewing for any woman. Epic, awesome. All the emotion that Carol lacked.
    Blue – beautiful realism. As with Below Her Neck, I don’t know why we are not allowed to have baser instincts satisfied – BHN written and directed by WOMEN.
    Imagine You and Me. Gorgeous!
    I adored Kiss Me, really captured the joy of love for me.
    Loving Annabelle – ok, not great – watch Therese And Isabelle (1968) instead.
    A few you missed – Summertime (La Belle Saison), written and directed by Women is simply divine, check it out now.
    Io e lei (Me, Myself & Her) – older women love story. Ditto Elena Undone.
    A little gem is A Date for Mad Mary – Americans may need subtitles!
    Of course Portrait of A Lady on Fire, simply perfection.

  2. Nonchalant Magazine
    Author
    4th August 2020 / 2:08 pm

    Hey Emily,

    Thanks for your input. We’ve had the content team update the article. Do let us know if you come across any others and we’ll be sure to have them included.

    Best,

    Team Nonchalant

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