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The 12 Best Lesbian Drama Movies You Should Already Have Seen By Now!

The 12 Best Lesbian Drama Movies You Should Already Have Seen By Now!

Lesbian drama films have not only emerged but thrived, becoming an integral and captivating genre known as the best lesbian drama movies within the expansive landscape of cinema. These films artfully explore themes of love, identity, acceptance, and the intricate nuances of human relationships.

Delving deep into the lives of lesbian characters, the best lesbian drama movies provide audiences with a unique and emotionally resonant perspective, showcasing the challenges and triumphs that define their journeys.

These films celebrate diversity, challenge societal norms, and provide a platform for exploring the multifaceted nature of human connections. From poignant and heart-wrenching stories to tales of self-discovery and empowerment, lesbian drama films hold the power to captivate, educate, and leave an indelible mark on the viewer’s understanding of love and the human experience.

In this exploration, we will delve into some of the finest lesbian drama films that have not only contributed to cinematic artistry but also enriched the collective narrative of LGBTQ+ stories.

The 12 Best Lesbian Drama Movies You Should Already Have Seen By Now!

Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apply TV+, or elsewhere.

You can get one month free of Amazon Pride (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.

Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best. 

While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Céline Sciamma, a notable French director known for her insightful exploration of human emotions and relationships, helms the captivating masterpiece Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Sciamma’s career has been marked by her distinctive storytelling style and focus on the complexities of personal connections.

The film unfolds in 18th-century France and centers on Marianne, a talented portrait artist, who is commissioned to paint the portrait of Héloïse, a reluctant bride-to-be. Set against the rugged landscapes of the Brittany coast, the narrative unravels as Marianne covertly observes Héloïse during daily walks, meticulously capturing her essence. As their interactions deepen, an intense bond blossoms between the two women, challenging societal norms and igniting a forbidden romance.

The evocative setting of the remote coastal estate serves as a metaphorical reflection of the characters’ internal struggles and desires. The expansive landscapes mirror the characters’ emotional worlds, where hidden passions and societal constraints collide. Sciamma’s deliberate use of this backdrop accentuates the intimacy and vulnerability of the characters, amplifying their unspoken emotions.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a must-watch for its exquisite storytelling and visual poetry. The film delves into themes of love, autonomy, and artistic expression with subtlety and depth. Sciamma’s direction and the cast’s impeccable performances breathe life into a narrative that transcends time, inviting viewers to reflect on the universal experience of love and longing. 

Disobedience (2017)

Disobedience is a film directed by Sebastián Lelio, a Chilean filmmaker renowned for his ability to delve into complex emotional landscapes. Lelio’s career has been characterized by his exploration of marginalized identities and the intricacies of human relationships, often with a focus on women’s experiences.

The film’s narrative revolves around Ronit Krushka (portrayed by Rachel Weisz), a woman who returns to her Orthodox Jewish community in London following her father’s death. Estranged due to her departure and rejection of the faith, Ronit’s return is met with mixed emotions.

As the community grapples with her reappearance, she reconnects with her childhood friend Esti (played by Rachel McAdams), who is now married to Ronit’s cousin Dovid (Alessandro Nivola). The film takes a poignant turn as suppressed desires and rekindled passions come to the fore, challenging the conventions of faith and tradition.

Set against the backdrop of a close-knit Orthodox Jewish community in North London, the film’s portrayal of the setting is marked by its somber and reverential tone. The carefully constructed scenes reflect the restrained atmosphere of the community, magnifying the tension between individual desires and societal expectations.

Disobedience is an exquisite portrayal of love, sacrifice, and the struggle for authenticity within the confines of tradition. The film’s impeccable performances, particularly those of Weisz and McAdams, breathe life into characters grappling with their identities and desires. The director’s sensitive approach and nuanced storytelling highlight the emotional depth of the narrative, inviting the audience to empathize with the characters’ internal conflicts.

The Handmaiden (2016)

Park Chan-wook, a prominent South Korean filmmaker known for his distinctive storytelling and visual flair, directed the film The Handmaiden. With a career spanning various genres and international recognition, Park has established himself as a master of suspenseful narratives.

The Handmaiden is an intricate tale set in 1930s Korea during the Japanese colonial era. Adapted from Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, the film revolves around a young Korean woman named Sook-Hee, who becomes the handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, Lady Hideko. The plot takes unexpected turns as Sook-Hee and Lady Hideko forge a complex relationship, challenging societal norms and revealing hidden motivations.

Set against the lush backdrop of a secluded mansion, the film masterfully captures the atmospheric beauty of its setting. The mansion becomes a character in itself, reflecting the underlying tension and desire that define the characters’ interactions. The visual aesthetics, combined with Park’s meticulous direction, immerse the audience in a world of opulence and secrecy.

For those seeking a captivating blend of psychological drama, romance, and mystery, The Handmaiden offers a truly unique cinematic journey. With its compelling characters, evocative setting, and expert direction, the film presents an opportunity to delve into the complexities of human emotions and motivations.

Whether you’re a fan of Park Chan-wook’s work or simply enjoy films that challenge conventions and keep you guessing until the very end, The Handmaiden is a must-watch that will leave you mesmerized by its artistry and narrative depth.

The World Unseen (2007)

The World Unseen, a film directed by Shamim Sarif, captivates audiences with its exploration of love and self-discovery amidst the backdrop of South Africa during the apartheid era. Sarif, a British filmmaker and author, is renowned for her ability to create compelling narratives that address complex social issues with a delicate touch.

The film’s plot unfolds in 1950s South Africa, a period marked by racial segregation and societal restrictions. The story revolves around two women, Miriam and Amina, whose lives intersect unexpectedly. Miriam, a reserved Indian housewife, manages a café while navigating the demands of her conservative family. Amina, on the other hand, is a spirited free spirit who runs a local café and lives her life on her own terms.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of Cape Town, The World Unseen masterfully captures the essence of the era and the geographical setting. The film portrays the picturesque landscape as a stark contrast to the oppression faced by its characters, symbolizing the tension between external beauty and internal struggles. Through careful cinematography and attention to detail, the director immerses viewers in the emotional journey of the protagonists.

The World Unseen is a poignant exploration of love, identity, and the courage to defy societal expectations. Sarif’s direction, combined with the stellar performances of the cast, brings depth and authenticity to the characters’ experiences. The film sheds light on the personal stories behind the larger historical narrative, making it a moving and relatable viewing experience.

Saving Face (2004)

Saving Face, directed by Alice Wu, is a captivating cinematic gem that effortlessly weaves together themes of cultural identity, family dynamics, and self-discovery. Wu, recognized for her distinctive storytelling and unique perspective, stands as an influential figure in the realm of independent filmmaking.

The film follows Wilhelmina Wil Pang (Michelle Krusiec), a talented young surgeon residing in New York City‘s vibrant Chinese-American community. Navigating the complexities of her dual identity, Wil finds herself at odds with her traditional mother (Joan Chen) as their cultural values clash with her pursuit of personal happiness.

The plot gains momentum when Wil’s mother unexpectedly arrives on her doorstep, pregnant and unwed. Amidst their shared struggle for autonomy, mother and daughter embark on parallel journeys of self-acceptance and understanding.

Set in the heart of Queens, New York, the film vividly captures the essence of this bustling immigrant enclave. The multi-generational households, bustling markets, and authentic cultural celebrations serve as a backdrop that adds depth to the characters and their challenges. The film’s portrayal of this milieu sensitively and accurately reflects the intricacies of balancing tradition with modernity.

With its masterful storytelling, relatable characters, and beautifully depicted setting, Saving Face is a film that demands to be seen. Whether you are drawn to its exploration of cultural identity or simply in search of a touching and insightful narrative, Saving Face offers a remarkable cinematic experience that leaves a lasting impression. It’s a testament to Alice Wu’s directorial prowess and an undeniable recommendation for anyone seeking a compelling and thought-provoking film that transcends cultural boundaries.

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

The Kids Are All Right is a film directed by Lisa Cholodenko, known for her ability to craft intricate narratives exploring human relationships and identity. Cholodenko’s career has been marked by her distinct style, often delving into the complexities of contemporary family dynamics. With this film, she continues to showcase her storytelling prowess.

Set in modern-day Los Angeles, the movie centers around the lives of a same-sex couple, Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), and their two teenage children, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson).

The family’s equilibrium is disrupted when Joni and Laser decide to seek out their biological father, a decision that introduces Paul (Mark Ruffalo) into their lives. As Paul becomes increasingly involved with the family, a series of humorous and emotionally charged events ensue, ultimately forcing the characters to confront questions of identity, loyalty, and belonging.

Cholodenko skillfully portrays Los Angeles as more than just a backdrop, incorporating its vibrant urban landscape and liberal atmosphere into the characters’ lives. The city becomes a metaphor for the family’s own journey, illustrating the complexities of modern relationships and the ways in which individuals navigate their own paths within a diverse and evolving society.

The Kids Are All Right is a compelling exploration of love, family, and the intricacies of human connections. The stellar ensemble cast delivers nuanced performances that bring authenticity and depth to their characters. The film deftly navigates the complexities of unconventional family structures, offering a refreshing perspective on the modern concept of family.

My Days of Mercy (2017)

My Days of Mercy, a film directed by Tali Shalom-Ezer, offers an evocative exploration of complex emotions against a backdrop of societal and familial tensions. Shalom-Ezer, an Israeli filmmaker known for her skillful storytelling and nuanced character portrayals, lends her distinctive touch to this poignant drama.

The film centers on Lucy (Ellen Page) and Mercy (Kate Mara), two women on opposing sides of the death penalty debate. Lucy, played by Page, is a staunch opponent of capital punishment due to her father’s incarceration. Mercy, portrayed by Mara, stands on the other side, advocating for the execution of those convicted of heinous crimes. The characters’ conflicting viewpoints create a charged atmosphere, yet amidst their differences, an unexpected romance blossoms.

Set against the backdrop of the death penalty protests, the film captures the emotional turmoil faced by Lucy and Mercy as they navigate their convictions while falling for each other. The atmospheric depiction of the film’s Midwestern setting serves as a metaphor for the internal struggle faced by the characters, beautifully reflecting the dichotomy of their emotions.

This film is a must-watch for its powerful performances, compelling narrative, and thought-provoking themes. The exploration of love amidst ideological differences is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming, offering a profound meditation on the transformative power of human connection. Whether one is drawn to character-driven dramas or intrigued by the exploration of moral dilemmas, My Days of Mercy y offers a cinematic experience that is bound to resonate and linger long after the credits roll.

Bloomington (2010)

Bloomington is an independent drama film directed by Fernanda Cardoso, marking her directorial debut. Cardoso’s background in acting and her experience in the entertainment industry informed her approach to the film, contributing to its nuanced storytelling and character development.

The film revolves around the life of Jacqueline, a former child actress, portrayed by Sarah Stouffer, who seeks to distance herself from her past and aspires to lead a normal life as a college student. Her journey unfolds at Indiana University in the quaint town of Bloomington.

As Jacqueline navigates the complexities of college life, she develops an unexpected and intense relationship with her magnetic and enigmatic professor, Catherine, played by Allison McAtee. The film delves into their complex dynamic as their bond evolves from mentorship to a passionate and controversial romance.

Bloomington is a poignant exploration of identity, desire, and self-discovery. Cardoso’s direction coupled with the heartfelt performances of the cast breathes life into the characters, making them relatable and endearing. The film offers a refreshing take on the coming-of-age genre, steering away from clichés and embracing the complexity of human emotions.

For those seeking a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant film, Bloomington comes highly recommended. Its sincere portrayal of characters grappling with their pasts and desires, set against the backdrop of a charming town, creates an engaging and immersive cinematic experience. With its authentic performances and compelling narrative, Bloomington invites viewers to contemplate the intricacies of relationships, personal growth, and the pursuit of one’s true self.

Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

Blue Is the Warmest Color, directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, is a captivating exploration of love, self-discovery, and societal norms. Kechiche, a Tunisian-French filmmaker known for his naturalistic approach, gained international recognition for his ability to intricately weave emotional narratives. This film is a pinnacle of his career, showcasing his distinct directorial style and exceptional storytelling.

The film revolves around the passionate love affair between Adele, a young high school student played by Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Emma, an aspiring artist portrayed by Léa Seydoux. Set in Lille, France, the plot follows Adele’s journey of self-discovery as she navigates her sexuality and identity while grappling with societal expectations. The movie masterfully captures the intensity of their relationship, delving into the complexities of their connection and its transformative impact on Adele.

The setting of Lille becomes more than just a backdrop; it is a reflection of the characters’ emotional states and personal growth. Kechiche uses the city’s streets, cafes, and homes to mirror the evolving dynamics of the central relationship. This attention to detail creates an immersive experience, drawing the audience into the characters’ emotional landscapes.

Blue Is the Warmest Color or is a cinematic masterpiece that artfully captures the complexities of love, identity, and societal pressures. With its powerful performances and rich storytelling, the film offers a profound exploration of the human experience.

Whether one is drawn to emotionally charged dramas or simply seeks a thought-provoking cinematic experience, this film is a must-watch. It invites viewers to immerse themselves in the lives of its characters, fostering empathy and understanding along the way.

Duck Butter (2018)

Duck Butter is a film directed by Miguel Arteta, a talented filmmaker known for his unique approach to storytelling. With a career spanning both television and cinema, Arteta has demonstrated a consistent ability to delve into thought-provoking themes while maintaining a distinct artistic style.

The film’s plot revolves around two women, Naima (played by Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (played by Laia Costa), who decide to accelerate their budding romantic relationship by spending 24 intense hours together, attempting to fast-track the intimacy that typically develops over a longer period of time. As the hours pass, their interactions become increasingly raw, exposing both their vulnerabilities and strengths. The film delves into themes of intimacy, trust, and the complexities of human connections.

Duck Butter stands out not only for its unconventional approach to storytelling but also for its authentic portrayal of the complexities of human emotions. The film’s exploration of the accelerated relationship timeline offers a fresh perspective on modern romance, prompting viewers to reflect on their own connections and the various facets of intimacy.

Intriguing, bold, and emotionally charged, Duck Butter is a film worth watching for its innovative narrative structure, skillful direction, and powerful performances. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking film that challenges conventions and offers a deep exploration of human connections, Duck Butter should be on your watchlist. It’s a captivating journey that invites viewers to ponder the depths of intimacy and the intricacies of human relationships.

Pariah (2011)

Pariah is a poignant and resonant coming-of-age drama directed by Dee Rees, marking her directorial debut. Rees, a talented filmmaker known for her insightful storytelling and ability to capture authentic human experiences, embarked on a remarkable career journey with this film.

Set in Brooklyn, New York, Pariah follows the story of Alike (Adepero Oduye), a 17-year-old African American girl navigating the challenges of self-discovery and identity in a society that often imposes rigid norms. Alike grapples with her burgeoning lesbian identity, concealed from her conservative parents, particularly her mother (Kim Wayans), who holds traditional beliefs.

Dee Rees demonstrates her directorial prowess by infusing the film with a genuine sense of empathy and an unflinching dedication to portraying the nuances of her characters’ emotional journeys. The film’s performances are a testament to her direction, with Oduye delivering a compelling and heartfelt portrayal of Alike’s inner struggles.

Pariah is a must-watch for its profound exploration of identity, family dynamics, and societal expectations. It stands as a remarkable achievement in independent cinema, shedding light on marginalized experiences with grace and authenticity.

Through its captivating storytelling and genuine characters, the film provides a window into the lives of individuals striving to reconcile their true selves with external pressures. Anyone seeking a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant cinematic experience should undoubtedly make time for Pariah. It’s a testament to Dee Rees’ directorial talent and an unforgettable journey that invites viewers to reflect on the complexities of human existence.

The Duke of Burgundy (2014)

The Duke of Burgundy is a film directed by Peter Strickland, known for his unique and intricate storytelling style. Strickland gained recognition with his debut feature Katalin Varga (2009) and continued to captivate audiences with his idiosyncratic narratives and atmospheric aesthetics.

Set in an unspecified European countryside, The Duke of Burgundy offers a mesmerizing glimpse into the relationship between two entomologists, Cynthia and Evelyn. Their bond revolves around an unconventional dynamic that involves role-playing and dominance, gradually evolving into a captivating exploration of power dynamics and intimacy. The film delicately traverses themes of desire, control, and vulnerability, drawing the audience into an intricate web of emotions and psychological intricacies.

The intricate setting, characterized by lush gardens, opulent interiors, and timeless fashion, serves as an evocative backdrop that enhances the film’s exploration of desire and fantasy. Strickland masterfully uses the surroundings to mirror the protagonists’ inner worlds, creating an immersive experience that blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.

For those seeking a departure from conventional storytelling, The Duke of Burgundy offers a unique cinematic journey that invites contemplation and introspection. With its evocative setting, exceptional performances, and thematic depth, the film is a must-watch for anyone intrigued by the exploration of complex human dynamics and the art of storytelling through a distinct lens.