It's a constant gripe of girls who like girls that there is so little culture that explores, engages and takes seriously their sexuality. While much of Hollywood is off pretending that women only want to bang each other for the benefit of slavering men, the other prevalent lesbian storyline tends to involve one woman presenting the option of queer love to another who had never considered it before. Women are assumed to be straight until proven otherwise; proof which comes much to the surprise of the society around them, and often, the women themselves.
With the UK release of the hot and heavy Palme D'Or winner Blue is the Warmest Colour this Friday, we run down the top ten films featuring the lesbian feels.
Fucking Åmål (Show me love) (1998)
As you might expect, Sweden has a ton of lesbian films (two of which, no lie, have English titles taken from Robyn songs). This suburban tale of teen frustration at small-town possibilities is Lukas Moodysson's (Lilya 4-Ever) directorial debut. Expect "no one understands me" angst and suburban 90s tracksuits aplenty.
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Kate Winslet's first major film and directed by Peter Jackson, Heavenly Creatures tells the story of two teenage girls in Christchurch, New Zealand who are obsessed with each other and the fantasy worlds they enter together. Another true story, the violent ending is a culmination of the underlying tension between the girls, a dizzying, hysterical friendship that lashes out against anything that threatens it.
Room in Rome (2010)
The predecessor to Blue Is The Warmest Colour's level of raunch, this Spanish sexfest portrays a one-night encounter between Natasha, who is engaged to be married to a man, and the brazenly seductive Alba. Proper sex scenes and a real tension between the two women are what makes this film stand out.
The Secrets (2007)
Set in a seminary in Israel, the plot follows an intelligent and headstrong girl as she works towards her dream of becoming a rabbi. Dealing with the whole "God hates fags" thing, The Secrets is about women making their own choices in a traditional and orthodox environment.
The Children's Hour (1961)
Two school teachers (played by Audrey Hepburn and Shirley Maclaine) are accused of being lovers by a student at their school, causing them to lose all their students overnight. The undercurrent of self-loathing and repression make this pretty bleak viewing, but it's worth it for the witch-hunting reaction of the parents, as well as the uber-dramatic facial close-ups of the accusing student, Mary.
"Here anything illegal becomes politically subversive," Atafeh, one of Circumstance's main characters says. Though it's set in contemporary Tehran, it was filmed in Beirut, where the Lebanese government were sent a fake script in order to ensure it was filmed. However, the authorities still kept a close eye on the film, mirroring the action of the plot, which explores two middle-class girls' experiences in the illicit underground youth culture of Iran's capital.
Water Lilies (2007)
Awkward French teenager Marie is obsessed with the local synchronised swimming team, and particularly its star swimmer, herself plagued by her own troublesome virginity, despite her slutty reputation. If you need to remember how much it sucks to be a teenager, watch this film.
Beautiful butch Corky is a thief, straight out of jail and ready to get back on the straight and narrow - until she meets the mob wife next door, with whom she concocts a plan to steal the mafioso husband's suitcase full of money. Straight from the minds of The Matrix's Wachowski brothers, the lesbian love story frames the violent macho Mafia plot perfectly.
Based on the true story of prostitute and serial killer Aileen Wuornos and her lover Tyria Moore (called Shelby, and played by Christina Ricci in the film), this is one fucked-up lesbian love affair. The relationship is a bare shining lightbulb in this biopic of Wuornos's life, which reads like a catalogue of abuse.
At a boarding house in Reno, waiting for her residency in Nevada to be established so that she can claim her divorce, Vivian meets daring local lesbian Cay. The cowboys-and-casinos backdrop is a great setting for the passion of an unexpected affair. Also, Camille Paglia has seen it 11 times. Nuff said.
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