Movies are one of our favorite weekend activities, especially once the cooler weather starts drawing in. There’s nothing better than snuggling up on the couch with some popcorn and a glass of wine to enjoy a good romantic movie.
But when all of the romantic movies out there are heterosexual couples, it can be a bit of a mood killer. Where are all the lesbian love movies out there? And by lesbian love movie, we mean more than just a token kiss or a bit of experimentation!
Luckily, there are some great lesbian love movies to discover, ones that will enrich your movie nights for a while to come. From tender young love in Blue Is the Warmest Colour to mature coming-of-age in Desert Hearts, enjoy this great range of films that represent lesbian love in all its rich and varied forms
In this article we will cover...
Absolutely top of our list of lesbian love movies is this Swedish romance that somehow manages to tell a well-worn story in a completely fresh and original way. Yes, we’ve all seen films where two people embark on an affair they never expected, but this story of the attraction and love between two stepsisters-to-be is sexy, realistic and wonderfully acted.
When two women, one engaged to a man, find themselves thrown together after their parents’ engagement party they are surprised by their chemistry and connection. As it develops into something stronger and deeper, the question emerges: what will win out, who they thought they were or who they are?
Add in an awesome soundtrack and some stark and stunning Swedish landscapes and you’ve got a movie you’ll be watching more than once. Watch it now!
No list of lesbian love movies would be complete without this French winner of the Palme d’Or. We know it might be a bit cliché, but we defy you not to well up (if not out-and-out bawl) during at least one part of this tender and truthful love story between introverted Adèle and free spirit Emma in Lille, spanning several years.
The film caused controversy for its graphic and long sex scenes, but that’s definitely not all there is to it. In fact, it perfectly captures the arc of first love, from crazed longing to a strengthening bond to growing apart. It pulls no punches in reminding you that often love won’t last forever and is completely involving. Watch it now!
This sensual film is rich with the layers of the past; the markers have worked hard to show the style and aesthetics of the time. It’s a period piece set in 1950s but the emotions depicted transcend time. We all know what it’s like to love with the longing that Cate Blanchett’s and Rooney Mara’s characters do in Carol, even when we are not constrained by society the way they were.
When a shy shopgirl meets a rich, married sophisticate they are instantly, and perhaps surprisingly, attracted. But of course, this was not a time when two women could be together, so their burgeoning love has to hide and they struggle to find a path.
The acting is incredible as Blanchett and Mara exercise restraint in showing how the love between the characters grows. Definitely, one to watch if you enjoy a period drama as well as some lesbian love! Watch it now!
Summertime, or La Belle Saison in the original French, can be your intellectual addition to your list of lesbian love movies. Not only does it tell you about the women’s lib movement in 1970s France, it also tells a beautiful and tragic love story between two young women who have to overcome family and community prejudice.
The two actresses have a natural chemistry that carries the plot and makes you totally invested in their relationship as it struggles to survive outside pressures. When Delphine arrives in Paris from rural France she meets Carole and the two tentatively begin a relationship. Its sun-drenched romance and passion make it a secret gem in any film collection. Watch it now!
This film has more young girls falling in love in summer, although this time with some seriously dark undertones. Although it might not seem like the obvious choice for a romantic movie night, the tender and passionate love story between the two bored teenagers in a long, hot summer holiday.
Working class Mona and middle-class Tamsin meet by chance near their homes in Yorkshire and spend more and more time together, eventually beginning a relationship that takes in eternal oaths at rivers and evokes the confusion of being a teenager. Although it might not be perfect, it perfectly conveys a mood and you can’t help but be immersed in their story. Watch it now!
While it’s easy with 80s movies to spend most of the time gawping at the fashions going “I can’t believe people used to wear that!”, it’s important to remember that this wild and romantic film was incredibly ground-breaking at the time it was released. Not only did it depict a same-sex relationship, in itself pretty unusual, but it depicted a female same-sex relationship with no tragic end or man in the triangle.
We’ve come a long way, really. Despite this, the movie never feels out of date. It’s pure love story with some stellar acting and incredible wild-West scenery. Against this backdrop, a constrained professor falls for a bold and impulsive artist who starts to pull her out of her shell and helps her live again.
Classics are classics for a reason, and this is no exception. Watch it now!
What better addition a list of lesbian love movies than one set in one of the most romantic cities in the world, Rome. Set over the course of one night in a hotel room in Rome, the film shows the development of a connection between Alba and Natasha. It’s intimate, it’s passionate and it’s also pretty darn erotic.
It’s a powerful and intense portrayal of how love can surprise us at the unlikeliest of times and in the most unexpected of places. The journey through the night brings them to a sense of freedom within their secret tryst. Expect to still be thinking about it long afterwards. Watch it now!
OK, strictly speaking this film is not about the lesbian love story as much as the relationship between a 16-year old girl and her independent aunt in Chicago, but we thought it was worth including on the list just to give you a cool and alternative suggestion for movie night. Something that no one’s heard of but everyone will like.
Plus, amidst the rich and well-developed characters there is a hint of a coming-of-age love story between Cyd and cute Katie, whose sexual relationship is treated in a refreshingly understated and matter-of-fact way. The female characters are strong and realistic, leading to empathetic depictions of the relationships between women, sexual or not. Watch it now!
This is one of those rarest of unicorns, a light hearted lesbian rom com. Sweet, kind and completely free of bad intentions, it’s the perfect feel-good movie for a cosy film night. Rachel locks eyes with Luce as she walks down the aisle on her wedding day, but as the two keep getting thrown together they can’t deny their attraction.
It’s got every rom com trope in the book but, quite frankly, we love that. Why should heterosexual couples be the only ones who get to almost-kiss in the rain? There’s a great cast as well, and plenty of fun! Watch it now!
This is a super-cute mid-90s film set in New York that has all of the best teen movie features – an uncool kid who’s actually fun and alternative starting a romance with a popular, pretty kid – except this time with two girls falling in love. We love the bright, 90s color palette and aesthetics and the acting is authentic and honest.
It’s a great portrayal of first love and all the excitement and problems that come with it. Randy and Evie introduce each other to music and books, navigate each other’s families and write about their first kiss in diaries. It’s classic teenage stuff, but also highlights the importance of acceptance – of yourself and from those close to you. Watch it now!
Based on a 2006 novel of the same name by the wonderful Naomi Alderman (have you read The Power yet? You should!), this totally absorbing film depicts the blossoming relationship between two women in the London Orthodox Jewish community. Coming home for her father’s funeral, Ronit (played by Rachel Weisz) is reunited not only with the conservative community she fled from, but with a former love, Esti (played by Rachel McAdams), now married to Dovid. Disobedience sensitively explores issues of identity, sacrifice and love.
It probably wouldn’t be quite as moving without the incredibly powerful performances by McAdams and Weisz, showing their passion and their inner conflict as they reembark on their affair. It’s thought-provoking, rich and sexy – a must for your next intellectual movie night. Watch it now!
This is an intense movie and – we’re not going to lie – it isn’t for everyone. Why so intense? Well, it takes the audience with the two protagonists on their attempt to fast-track a new relationship by spending a solid 24 hours together. The aim is to foster intimacy, but the results aren’t exactly what they expect. It’s an experimental film co-written by Alia Shawkat, who also stars (she’s Mabel from Arrested Development all grown up), and the title seems designed to embarrass those who recommend it!
The two main actresses carry the film, conveying the depth of emotion they feel for each other and the ways they trip themselves up perfectly. If you ever had a doomed romance in your 20s, this film will speak to you. It was actually shot in 24 hours as well, so it feels really authentic, leaving you slightly light-headed by the end of it. When you need a lesbian love film with a difference, download this one – just maybe not with a brand-new partner! Watch it now!
Films like 2004’s Saving Face don’t come along often, which is a real shame. It manages to tackle serious issues – coming out within a more conventional Asian-American community, falling in love for the first time – but with a lightness of touch that results in a charming romantic comedy. A successful Chinese American surgeon, Wil, balances her life in New York between her mother, who keeps trying to set her up with men, and her blossoming romance with Vivian, a dancer.
The relationship between Vivian and Wil is really realistically portrayed (although this was 2004, so it feels a little underdeveloped) and the complicated mother-daughter interactions are also very well done. Most importantly, this film gave Asian-American lesbians a chance to see themselves in a mainstream movie. Watch it now!
This German film is not one for a light-hearted movie night, but is one of the most tragic lesbian love films you’ve never seen. Based on a true story, Aimée & Jaguar is set in Berlin during World War 2 and depicts the love affair between a Nazi housewife, Lilly, and a Jewish woman undercover, Felice. As you can imagine, this is no rom-com. As their attachment deepens, their environment becomes ever shakier and the script truly conveys the vulnerability of falling in love on a knife-edge.
It’s not only the script that does all of the hard work, however. The performances of the two lead actresses – Juliane Köhler and Maria Schrader – are exceptional, with their yearning, desire and tenderness emotionally conveyed. Bring tissues. Watch it now!
It would be totally basic to say this is the lesbian Call Me By Your Name, although this Lithuanian movie also captures the heady, sun-filled days of a summer of love. It’s dreamy, tender and, OK, a little bit corny – but we loved it anyway! Auste, local teen, meets 17-year-old visitor Sangaile when she sells her a raffle ticket at a stunt show. Bonding over their love of stunt airplanes, the two girls soon find themselves in the intoxicating midst of a summer romance.
It’s hugely heartfelt and deeply immersive. Anyone who’s ever had a teenage passion (er, hello, all of us!) will recognise that sense of passion and nothing existing aside from the other person. What’s more, the gorgeous camera work will have you booking a ticket to Lithuania (or nearby Riga + Tallinn…). Watch it on a first date to show off your art-house movie credentials and boost the romantic atmosphere! Watch it now!
Now, we can’t promise that this is an innocent tale of first love; however, Park Chan-wook’s adaptation of Sarah Water’s Fingersmith is an absolutely gripping and deliciously twisted lesbian love film. Cons upon cons build up in a spooky mansion with horrors in the basement as two women give in to an overwhelming passion and break the ties that have bound them for too long.
Sookee is hired to act as a handmaiden for Hideko, a Japanese heiress living with her creepy Uncle. However, everyone involved is harbouring secrets. Strip away all the sleights of hand in the story and you’ll find an erotic love story that takes your breath away in more ways than one. Watch it now!
Starring our heroine Ellen Page, this movie might slightly stretch the use of the term ‘lesbian love film’ but it’s a Romeo and Juliet-esque story of love across the divide, with a big difference. Page plays a young woman whose father is on death row, campaigning against the death penalty, while Kate Mara is Mercy, a lawyer and pro-capital punishment protester. It might sound like an odd concept, but at least it’s original!
The film is saved from any mawkishness by the performances of the two leads, who have incredible chemistry. Meeting at protests around the country, their attraction grows even as the stakes get higher. It’s perfect for when you need a tear-jerking lesbian romance with a sense of humour that will get you thinking – we all have movie nights like that, right? Watch it now!
You probably haven’t heard about All About E, LGBT Austrian road-movie about a Lebanese lesbian DJ on the run with her husband of convenience. Now you’ve heard that description, we’re betting you won’t rest until you’ve seen it – good choice. E is a top DJ who takes off with a bag of cash she finds at her apartment, although this could just be an excuse to escape from her life.
In the closet to her parents, it turns out this self-censorship is what broke her and the lovely Trish up. When she decides to hide out at Trish’s, avoiding the club owner who wants that bag of cash back, it seems that their love has not simply gone away. Sensual love scenes and complex decisions follow. Like all good road movies, this one has a stellar ending – but we’re not going to give it away! Watch it now!
If you’re in the mood for a super-cheesy lesbian love film, look no further! Don’t let that description put you off, though. While it’s a little corny at times, Tell It To The Bees is a lush period drama about two women falling in love in provincial, post-war Scotland. Holliday Grainger (who we would watch in basically anything, to be honest) plays Lydia, a young mother who forms a bond with the new doctor in town, Jean, played by Anna Paquin.
Jean is a beekeeper, and connects with Lydia’s son Charlie through these buzzing messengers. The bees also act as symbols of the natural forces that hold Jean and Lydia in their sway. Naturally, the conservative town does not approve. The early parts of the film, as they flirt, gaze and fall in love, are particularly moving and sweet. Watch it now!
This is another on our list that isn’t for everyone and devotees of Virginia Woolf might have a thing or two to say about it. From the moment Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf meet at a party, they begin a tug-of-war romantic relationship. Gemma Arterton plays flirtatious Vita, courting Virginia through letters and determined to succeed in her campaign. Elizabeth Debicki plays Virginia Woolf herself, more reticent and stubborn.
It’s got modern music, weird CGI sequences and a backdrop of the Bloomsbury set to keep things entertaining. While some think that it’s a rather tame depiction of what could have been quite a passionate love affair, we love the understated connection between the two women, who want to have creative careers as much as they want to have an epic love story. Give it a shot if you want something a bit unusual for your next film night in – but maybe line up one of the others on this list in case Vita and Virginia doesn’t hit the spot. Watch it now!
Not every lesbian love movie has to be deadly serious and on this list, you’ve got a great range to choose from to suit every night in on the sofa, from quirky to heartbreaking to passionate and more!