Because there's more queer cinema out there than just 'Call Me by Your Name...'
Mainline Pictures/Orion Classics, Paramount+, STX Entertainment
Popular, critically-acclaimed LGBTQ+ movies are great and all, but the world of queer cinema has way more to offer viewers than just Call Me by Your Name and Carol.
Here are some underrecognized films you probably haven't watched yet (but definitely should)!
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Mainline Pictures/Orion Classics
My Beautiful Laundrette is an 80’s British comedy-drama following a young Pakistani man, Omar (Gordon Warnecke), who takes over a laundrette with his friend, Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis). Their relationship as the movie carries on was was poignant, timely, and necessary. The two of them are surrounded by violence, prejudice and cultural divides, which continued into the real world after the film’s release.
Three Months (2022)
In Three Months, singer Troye Sivan stars as Caleb, who discovers he has been exposed to HIV. During the three-month waiting period while he’s awaiting his results, he connects with Estha (Viviek Kalra), who is also waiting for the same results. They bond over the situation and join a support group that gives Caleb in particular everything he needs. Although it tackles some very real-world and present issues, it does so with hope and tact.
Edge of Seventeen (1998)
Made in the 90’s but set in the 80’s, Edge of Seventeen follows Eric (Chris Stafford), an Ohio teen working at a theme park for the summer, as he falls in love with a boy named Rod (Andersen Gabrych). As his crush gets stronger, Eric first with the edges of fashion boundaries and explores the gay bars while making queer friends along the way. Although it’s a pretty heartfelt look into what it’s like to come out, it’s not a fully happy movie. It was groundbreaking when it came out, and it’s a film that still doesn’t get all the shine it deserves.
Olivia chronicles the tragic woes of erotic pedagogy as seen through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Olivia and her beloved headmistress Mademoiselle Julie. Adapted from a novel by Dorothy Bussy, the film is considered a landmark in lesbian representation, inspiring namesake record labels and lesbian cruise lines.
Based on the E.M. Forster novel of the same name, Maurice follows the story of Maurice Hall (James Wilby) from his days as a schoolboy through university. At university, he strikes up a friendship with Clive Durham (Hugh Grant) which leads to an intense but forbidden love affair.
If you’re into 16th century aesthetics, poetry, and British history, then Orlando is the film for you. Blessed with eternal life by Queen Elizabeth I, nobleman Orlando transcends our perceived limitations of time, space, and gender to live as fulfilling a life as any one of us could imagine.
The World Unseen (2007)
Set in 1950’s South Africa, The World Unseen shines a light on the taboos of the time period: lesbian love, interracial relationships, and philandering husbands. The film is beautifully shot and acted, and the lead actresses have chemistry that’s to die for.
Below Her Mouth (2016)
One woman is engaged to be married to her longtime boyfriend and the other is playing a dangerous game of seduction. Together they create something of an alternate version of Blue Is the Warmest Color...but with more interesting love scenes.
Mädchen in Uniform (1958)
This rare gem of a film follows Manuela von Meinhardis (Romy Schneider) as she navigates the first sparks of adolescent love in a boarding school setting. With her heart-eyes dead set on her teacher Fraulein von Bernburg (Lilli Palmer), Manuela makes romantic overtures with not-so-desirable consequences.
P.S. This is a remake of a 1931 film that's now hailed as the first "pro-lesbian" film ever made. But don’t overlook it—the performances and cinematography are superb!
The Hunger (1983)
If you haven’t seen The Hunger, you’re doing queer cinema all wrong. First of all, David Bowie plays a very sexy vampire and that alone should be enough to entice some viewers. If that’s not your thing, not to worry—Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon play equally sexy vampires who love (and fight) to the death for everlasting life.
Portrait of a Marriage (1990)
Brace yourself for a whirlwind of romance, heartache, and early 20th century fashion in Portrait of a Marriage. The always admirable Janet McTeer sinks her teeth into the role of real-life Vita Sackville-West who defied social norms of the time by stealing away from her gay husband to be with her childhood friend and true love, Violet Keppel.
8 Femmes (2002)
François Ozon’s 8 Femmes is filled to the brim with '50s glam, comedy, music, and incredible French talent. The colorful musical boasts names like Catherine Deneuve, Fanny Ardant, and Isabelle Huppert and a very interesting queer storyline that concludes in a lush make-out session.
This very moving film follows a family as they move into a new neighborhood with their 10-year-old tomboy Laure. Upon meeting the other neighborhood kids, Laure introduces herself as Mikael, much to the chagrin of her parents. What ensues is a journey of self-discovery that touches the audience to the very core.
Losing Chase (1996)
In this 1996 film, Helen Mirren plays Chase, an ailing wife and mother entrapped by the social expectations of her stuffy friends on Martha’s Vineyard. When her husband hires a mother’s helper named Elisabeth (Kyra Sedgwick) to keep the kids in line while he’s away, the middle-aged Chase falls hard and fast.
Albert Nobbs (2011)
Glenn Close takes the title role in this 2011 film about a woman who poses as a man to work and survive in late 19th century Ireland. When she meets and falls for a woman named Helen (Mia Wasikowska), her entire world as she knows it comes undone.
La Belle Saison (2015)
A farmer’s conservative daughter and a punchy Spanish teacher fall in love in this beautiful French film. Cécile De France and Izïa Higelin deliver two powerful performances. A must-watch!
3 Generations (2015)
This generational dramedy centers around teenaged Ray (Elle Fanning) who’s finally gotten the go-ahead to transition from female to male. With support from mom (Naomi Watts) and grandma (Susan Sarandon), Ray’s got all he needs to live the life he’s meant to, except one thing: legal consent from his biological dad.
Vier Minuten (2006)
In Vier Minuten, an elderly piano teacher with a stiff upper lip takes a young convict under her wing and trains her for classical competition. As the two try to push their differences aside, a strange attraction develops and they begin to understand that maybe they’re not so different after all.
This is a really rare film that’s hard to find but incredible to watch. So, if you can get your hands on it, do yourself a favor and dedicate some time to it!