10 Romantic Lesbian Movies

Saturday, March 19 by Alan Rankin

If you’re seeking the right video for your date with that special lady, here are 10 romantic lesbian movies that might fill the bill. Cinema has come a long way since the repressed lesbians of “The Children’s Hour” and other turgid dramas of the 20th century. Nowadays, there are numerous films about women who love women, and here are some of the best:

  1. “Henry & June.” This sensuous classic from 1990, the first film to be given an NC-17, reveals the real-life romance between writers Henry Miller and Anais Nin. Anais wooed both Miller and his wife June in the Paris of the Lost Generation. Maria de Medieros and Uma Thurman offer two steamy love scenes as Anais and June.

  2. “Lianna.” Writer-director John Sayles created the second in a long string of independent classics with his 1983 follow-up to “Return of the Secaucus Seven.” Using the money he earned from writing low-budget horror flicks, Sayles produced “Lianna” for $300,000 and released it to international acclaim. His film told the story of a woman coming out, at a time when even Ellen and Rosie were still in the closet.

  3. “Desert Hearts.” Lesbian audiences of 1985 hailed this film, which took the revolutionary step of creating a realistic love relationship between two women that didn’t end in tragedy. Director Donna Deitch, gay herself, insisted on realism instead of phony drama. The result was one of the first true classics of modern lesbian romance.

  4. “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Modern-day housewife Kathy Bates hears the story of Ruth and Idgie, two strong women from an earlier era. Nervous studio executives prevented the filmmakers from using the “L word,” but the loving relationship is clear nonetheless. Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker are charming and endearing as Idgie and Ruth.

  5. “Go Fish.” By the mid-1990s, gay-themed movies were flourishing in the independent-film boom, starting a movement called the New Queer Cinema. At the crest of this wave were director Rose Troche and screenwriter Guinevere Turner. Their lesbian drama “Go Fish” won numerous awards and established the two women as filmmakers to watch.

  6. “Kissing Jessica Stein.” This 2001 romantic comedy focuses on two women who just can’t find the right men. Fed up, they begin dating each other. It was a novel approach for American audiences just getting used to the idea that gays and lesbians weren’t going back into the closet.

  7. “Mulholland Dr.” At first, this Hollywood tale seems a typically trippy David Lynch mix of crime and weirdness. But at its center is the surprisingly tender relationship between Laura Harring and Naomi Watts, strangers seeking the heart of the mystery. You can’t help rooting for them, but this being a Lynch film, don’t expect them to find a happy ending – or any kind of ending at all.

  8. “Imagine Me & You.” By 2005, romantic lesbian movies had gone from radical to mainstream. The proof is this rom-com, in which bride-to-be Piper Perabo falls for gorgeous wedding planner Lena Headey. The plot’s been done a dozen times before in hetero romance movies, but this time, the girl gets the girl.

  9. “The Kids Are All Right.” In 2010, with legalized gay marriage seemingly right around the corner, director Lisa Cholodenko created the first alternative-family family film. Stable spouses Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are a long ways removed from the fragile romances of the “Lianna”/”Desert Hearts” era. When their children seek the sperm donor whose DNA they share, the result is a critically acclaimed and award-winning comedy drama.

  10. “Bound.”At the heart of this 1996 crime drama is the hot romance between capable Corky and Violet, a mobster’s gorgeous girlfriend. Famed sexologist Susie Bright advised actresses Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly how to make the love scenes extra-authentic and juicy. The result became a classic of lesbian cinema and gave the Wachowski Brothers the clout to create their blockbuster “Matrix” trilogy.

Do you like this story?