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23 LGBTQ+ Films to End Pride Month With a Bang

The writers of The Simple Cinephile talk about their favourite queer films.

As 2019’s Pride month comes to a close, the lovely and diverse writers of The Simple Cinephile were asked to choose an LGBTQ+ film to write about.

From critically acclaimed masterpieces like Moonlight and Carol to hidden gems such as Professor Marston and the Wonder Women and The Handmaiden, please enjoy our thoughtful and unique list of our favourite queer films:

Heartbeats/Les Amours imaginaires

Heartbeats/Les Amours imaginaires (2010) – source: Remstar Distribution

Cast: Xavier Dolan, Monia Chokri, Niels Schneider
Director: Xavier Dolan
Where to watch: Hulu

Heartbeats, or Les Amours imaginaires, follows the pair of long-time friends Francis and Marie from the moment they meet the angelic-looking Nicolas, and how their relationship with him affects the friendship between the two.

This was the first Dolan’s feature I watched — the one that made me love his style as a director as well as keeping up with his other works. Part documentary, the plot deals with platonic love, the art of falling in — sometimes even out — of love and physical attraction in an aesthetically pleasing way. It also has a standout soundtrack and touching slow motion scenes — like much of Dolan’s films. If that’s not enough to convince you to watch it, I hope the Louis Garrel cameo — just as good as Keanu Reeves’ entrance into the recent Netflix rom-com Always Be My Maybe, I promise — can!

Written by Leticia

Beginners

Beginners (2010) – source: Focus Features

Cast: Ewan MacGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent
Director: Mike Mills
Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video

While many LGBT films center around the process of young adults coming out and coming of age, Mike Mills’ Beginners offers a new perspective on this story.

After the passing of his wife of 44 years, Hal Fields (an Academy Award winning performance from Christopher Plummer) comes out as gay at the ripe old age of 75, only a few years before he dies. As his son Oliver comes to terms with his father’s revelation and death, he realizes lessons about life that we too, as an audience, gain from watching his memories of Hal. Even after a long, loveless marriage, Hal is still determined to explore and understand his sexuality. His dedication to fully living his life until his very last breath is inspiring for Oliver as well as for all who watch. Hal’s decision to embrace his identity as a gay man so late in his life is a reminder that it’s never too late to live authentically. It’s never too late to begin.

Written by Saru

D.E.B.S.

D.E.B.S. (2004) – source: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Cast: Sara Foster, Jordana Brewster, Meagan Good, Devon Aoki
Director: Angela Robinson
Where to watch: Prime Video

Hidden in the SATs is a secret test that determines aptitude for espionage. Women who score highly are recruited into D.E.B.S. (Discipline, Energy, Beauty, Strength) and trained to be top spies. D.E.B.S. is a satirical take on the spy genre with all the early 2000s fun embedded into its core.

The film follows top student Amy Bradshaw and the relationship she develops with deadly super-villain Lucy Diamond as Amy and her team are ordered to surveil her. Not only is this film entertaining as hell, but its focus on all-female spies alongside a lesbian relationship is incredibly refreshing. It’s a really special film that I always have a lot of fun watching. Its director, Angela Robinson, is known for her other work portraying LGBT relationships, including The L Word and Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Robinson’s work is worth seeking out!

Written by Toni

Princess Cyd

Princess Cyd (2016) – source: Wolfe Video

Cast: Jessie Pinnick, Miranda Ruth
Director: Stephen Cone
Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video

To see a queer film where the protagonist is a pansexual female who is attracted to a more masc/butch presenting girl is not only exciting, it’s practically unheard of. Yet here sits Princess Cyd. Beyond being a film that’s just about exploring sexuality, gender or coming of age, it’s also a film about grief, loss, reconciliation, rebirth and spiritual faith. This could sound overbearing or like an onslaught, yet the themes are so perfectly intertwined that it never feels as if it’s trying to sideline Cyd’s blossoming sexuality.

In terms of the sex scenes in Princess Cyd, in place of a long, drawn out and overly tempestuous encounter (I’m looking at you, Blue is the Warmest Colour) or conversely a bathetic fade to black, Stephen Cone captures the intimacy and playfulness of sexual exploration whilst allowing the characters their privacy. It remains one of most tender and true portrayals of lesbian sex at age sixteen that I’ve seen to date, one that resonates with my own personal experiences. Also! Female Masturbation! It’s a thing! It happens in this film! It happens in real life!

Most importantly, Princess Cyd finds the extraordinary in the ordinary. There’s a beauty to its simplicity and a sweetness to the way that Cyd interacts with not only Katie, but also her Aunt Miranda. Their frank discussions of sexuality, gender and sexual impulses are so refreshing and are normalized in a way that made me feel seen and understood.

Written by Rachel

Moonlight

Moonlight (2016) – source: A24

Cast: Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monáe
Director: Barry Jenkins
Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video

Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight portrays three different stages of life through the eyes of Chiron, a young man living in Miami dealing with the pressures of his drug-addict mother and cruel classmates who taunt him for his sexuality.

Every frame of this film flows like the ocean waves that Chiron swims in, every piece of dialogue layered in lush beauty: James Laxton’s cinematography is some of the most transcendent that one will ever see, not simply because of the colors and the framing, but because of how they seamlessly merge into one and, together, give birth to a wholly unique new vision filled with endlessly mesmerizing allure. The film is a stunning coming-of-age portrait in its own right, but what allows it to feel like something completely different than anything we’ve ever seen before is its warm embrace of maturity and acknowledgment of the struggle in finding our own identity.

As Juan explains to young Chiron during one of the most spellbinding cinematic dialogue exchanges in recent memory, “At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re gonna be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.”. Even if you’ve never experienced what Chiron’s life is like first-hand, everyone has known, at least once, what it’s like to be insecure in their own emotions and unsure of their future. Moonlight is a heartbreakingly realistic and emotionally absorbing journey. Not only is it the best coming-of-age film of the decade, it’s also one of the best straight-up films of the decade, without question…maybe even the best.

Written by Owen

The Way He Looks

The Way He Looks (2014) – source: Vitrine Films

Cast: Ghilherme Lobo, Fabio Audi, Tess Amorim
Director: Daniel Ribeiro
Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video

There is a warmth you feel from watching The Way He Looks — an excitement of seeing of beautifully put together coming-of-age story. The film’s sweetness is enough to set butterflies in your stomach as it follows the story of Leonardo, a blind high school student hoping to gain more independence and see change in his life. Ribeiro approaches Leonardo and his friends with softness and empathy, allowing the audience to fall in love with him, along with childhood friend Giovanna and new-kid Gabriel. The trio carries the film and its tensions, resolving in a story that makes you just smile at the end.

I came across the movie by accident — my friend put it on randomly after work one day. I was shocked — mostly because, I was super familiar with its previous iteration as a Brazilian short film called I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone that circulated online when I was in high school. As it turns out, after two years of funding, the short was (well-deservedly) expanded to a feature-length film with the same actors. Both the short and the film have similar tones and beats, but with a few key changes. While I recommend watching both, and without going into detail, I do like some of the choices in the short a bit better. Maybe that’s just nostalgia speaking!

Written by Nisa

Y Tu Mamá También

Y Tu Mamá También (2001) – source: 20th Century Fox

Cast: Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video

Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También used to be my go-to title for a pretentious, art house movie reference. It archly conceals what is essentially the ‘Yo Mama’ joke of its translated title (And Your Mother Too) behind its flowery, rhythmic Spanish, and, in my narrow teenage frame of mind, made me sound incredibly smart to know of a foreign movie outside of Pan’s Labyrinth or Amélie. Then I actually sat down and watched it.

Layers of foliage on swimming pool ripples, hot summer nights and cataclysmic road trips were the fondly etched images that introduced many to one of the most interesting and enduring modern filmmakers back in 2001. But, beyond Cuarón’s signature impeccable photography, firm friends in and outside the cinematic frame Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna embody one of the best and truest burgeoning romances I’ve ever seen. Although the film closes on muted tragedy, its ultimate celebration of erotic exploration and innocent, liberating love leaves an everlasting impression.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) – source: Annapurna Pictures

Cast: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcoate
Director: Angela Robinson
Where to watch: Prime Video

Queer filmmaker Angela Robinson directs the empowering, sensual Professor Marston and the Wonder Women with thoughtful care towards the film’s subjects/themes, depicting the polyamorous relationship between Professor William Marston, his tenacious wife Elizabeth and quietly inquisitive mistress Olive Byrne. In addition to his important contributions to the lie detector, the film establishes William drawing from inspirational facets of their forbidden love to amalgamate the iconic lasso-twirling superheroine Wonder Woman. As one of the few people who managed to see the revolutionary film in its limited theatrical run, due to a woefully low box office return, it makes me happy to see it slowly getting its due.

While Evans engages in captivating dialogue with his co-leads, it’s the intoxicating dynamic between Hall and Heathcote that provides Wonder Women with the energy, catharsis, and intrigue that propels the film to its greatest heights. The moment of emotional realization when Elizabeth bounds Olive, attired in the golden WW-inspired burlesque outfit, as a loving gesture of asserting her dominance still takes my breath away. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women stands as a pinnacle of not only depicting the practice of polyamory, but doing so in a positive, male gaze-free manner. How many wide-release films can you say that about?

Written by Matt

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) – source: Summit Entertainment

Cast: Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Emma Watson
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Where to watch: Prime Video

When I first saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower at the tender age of twelve, I had no true perception of real LGBT relationships, especially ones involving MLM. I think this movie as a whole deals with queer relationships and sexuality well, as these ideas/plots seem to revolve around Patrick and what is happening to him at this point in his life. I think the good thing about this is that it’s portraying reality, brutally showing what has happened and is still happening to many people in LGBT relationships and the community in general: forcing to be closeted, internalized homo/biphobia and attacks.

I think this part of the movie is so underrated as at twelve, I had rarely seen these things in a film, let alone a film made for teenagers. It shows the ‘taboo’ subjects, and how a main queer character copes. It also goes into depth about the struggles of trying to be who you are, about boys wanting boys, but not wanting to want boys. This movie also, of course, shows the upsides. It doesn’t feel like you’re watching a movie about a boy and his queer best friend and his step sister. From Charlie’s eyes, the way we’re seeing it, it’s just his life, and I think that’s why I truly love it so much. It’s a YA movie and it has all this information and detail for possibly younger audiences going through the same thing. It has acceptance and normality. It has pride.

Written by Maddie

San Junipero

San Junipero (2016) – source: Netflix

Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mackenzie Davis, Denise Burse, Annabel Davis
Director: Owen Harris
Where to watch: Netflix

Though the 1980s are famous for their collection of coming-of-age romance movies (mostly thanks to John Hughes), a majority of these films lacked LGBTQ+ representation. Black Mirror, a show all about the future and technology, took a trip back in time beginning in 1987 to tell the story of a relationship between Yorkie and Kelly.

Without giving too much away, the episode is shot beautifully and reels the audience in up until the very last seconds. Eventually the episode travels through the 2000s and into present day. San Junipero proves that love is love no matter the time period – Kelly and Yorkie’s relationship smoothly travels through these decades while their love always remains steady.

Written by Olivia

Lovesong

Lovesong (2016) – source: Strand Releasing

Cast: Riley Keough, Jena Malone
Director: So Yong Kim
Where to watch: Netflix

Lovesong is the latest feature film from So Yong Kim that is centered around Sarah and her best friend from college, Mindy. Mindy comes to visit and help Sarah out with her daughter, and the film follows their interactions between the two years later.

Unlike most love stories, the film lives in the silence of the character’s insecurity. The longing to be more than friends, but the realization that it cannot be for whatever reason. Instead of a big scene where the characters proclaim their love, they simply steal glances at each other hoping the other takes the hint. Something as big as love might certainly exist between the two characters, if only they acknowledge it. Lovesong is about love. It’s also about being queer in a modern rural community, and it’s also about the missed opportunity. But most importantly, Lovesong is about the choices we make in our lives and the consequences we must face once we make them.

Written by Lauren L

Thelma

Thelma (2017) – source: SF Studios

Cast: Eili Harboe, Kaya Wilkins
Director: Joachim Trier
Where to watch: Prime Video

The film tells us the story of Thelma, a young student that comes from a protective, religious background and who’s struggling to feel comfortable in the environment of her university. Her uneasiness intensifies as she notices a connection between her blossoming feelings for her classmate, Anja, and the inexplicable epileptic seizures she has been recently suffering. The film, which relies heavily on its metaphorical and fantasy-filled cinema language doesn’t shy away when it comes to inducing those same nightmares to the audience by having flashy and astonishingly quiet scenes. It also serves as a positive example to the LGBTQ+ youth, by having the lead seeing her sexuality and all that comes within it as a superpower rather than a punishment.

Thelma goes beyond the sad ending that most gay movies come with and replaces it with a last act that will make you reconsider everything that you have seen.

Written by Laura

The Handmaiden/아가씨

The Handmaiden/아가씨 (2016) – source: CJ Entertainment

Cast: Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong
Director: Park Chan-wook
Where to watch: Prime Video

Set in 1930s Korea, The Handmaiden explores the confinement in rich, the art of erotic textures and the voluptuous detail in the intimacy between Hideko and Sook-hee. The dazzlingly complex psycho-sexual thriller is a huge milestone for LGBTQ+ cinema and has perhaps one of the most intelligent, and depth-filled characterization that a film has ever displayed.

The director, Park Chan-wook, ravishes the Korean-drama with an emporium of visual delights and bursts of flowering trees that mark the sumptuousness of the mansion with such elegance – along with the interiors with their wood paneling and floral wallpaper. The film is an aesthetic perfection – especially when it comes to the imperfect characters showcased – but it certainly inherits the jolts of terror. Gifted as one of the best pieces of queer cinema, Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden is not only an exquisite piece of storytelling, but it’s also a miraculous revelation: a unique depiction of the female experience and the sexual enlightenment that is achieved by two women. Succeeding as a cinematic masterpiece, The Handmaiden is not only a visually striking triumph, but also a film that attains fixations, strong, stirring, narratives and structured lesbian perspectives that are entirely welcome within LGBTQ+ cinema – and it’s quite doubtful that we’ll see another film of its kind again.

Written by Keli

Love, Simon

Love, Simon (2018) – source: 20th Century Fox

Cast: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Keiynan Lonsdale
Director: Greg Berlanti
Where to watch: iTunes

Everyone deserves a good love story and Love, Simon delivers beautifully. It’s a coming-of-age story about seventeen-year-old Simon Spier who’s hiding his sexuality from his friends and family, but finds himself falling for a classmate that remains unknown to him.

Love, Simon is wholesome, fun, and most importantly, real. A teenage mainstream rom-com that was so needed for teens who felt their voices weren’t heard and that the lack of representation for gay teens was evident. As someone who read the book (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda), I found myself instantly connecting with Simon. From his love of oreos, school musicals, and crushing from afar – it was almost like a shared experience. His fears were mine, his sadness was shared, and our thoughts were one. Seeing him overcome his struggles and embrace who he really is always warms my heart, whether it’s in written form or visual. This movie is heartwarming and enjoyable, and viewers will leave with a smile on their face every time.

Written by Jenn

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain (2005) – source: Focus Features

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway
Director: Ang Lee
Where to watch: Prime Video

Time has treated Ang Lee’s brilliant Brokeback Mountain incredibly well. From a “holy shit look where they are now” kind of cast, to the progressive dialogue the movie has with itself about repression, class, and intimacy.

Fourteen years following its release, it has comfortably blended with any other drama with an emotional core as opposed to a novelty that came out in a moment when there weren’t many films like it. The subversion of the genre in which the story resides is never meant to preach a message, but drapes over these two men with specific roles where those roles are most imperative, making this forbidden romance all the more devastating. Nevertheless, thinking past the love that could never be between Enis and Jack, that doesn’t stop Ang Lee from believing in the spark that still looms underneath the films cold depiction of rural life and haunting acoustic plucking in the score from Gustavo Santaolalla.

Jack and Enis’ rejection of any kind of happiness then conforming to what is expected of them becomes a part of the tragedy, never the drama. The repressing of one’s true emotion leads to unhappiness, especially with those who don’t even fully know who they are, Lee finds universality in the specificity. It’s never just a fling that happened in their early twenties which the men are reconciling with, but a lingering desire for something that can never be had. Brokeback spans many years, decades even, but the young cast never feels like they’re playing dress up, instead opting for looks and idiosyncrasies that would inform the age of a character naturally. Michelle Williams’ Alma and Anne Hathaway’s Lureen no doubt wear the progression of their aging and marriage, but it is Ledger and Gyllenhaal who convincingly pull off two decades of regret, sadness, and anger. The queerness (better yet any sight of intimacy at all) in fact comes from how unromantic Enis and Jack are together, it appears to be just horseplay as opposed to swooning and lush.

Written by Jack

Mysterious Skin

Mysterious Skin (2004) – source: Tartan Films

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brady Corbet, Michelle Trachtenberg
Director: Ang Lee
Where to watch: Prime Video, Hulu

It wasn’t until the credits rolled, that I realized I was crying. I found myself damp-cheeked and puffy-eyed, staring at my reflection in the TV screen, thinking ‘this is the best film that I never want to watch again.’ Greg Araki’s Mysterious Skin really is a masterpiece, it’s harrowing and icky and clings to your skin like damp clothes. Based on Scott Heim’s devastating novel of the same title, Mysterious Skin splits its time between the intersecting stories of two teenage boys, Brian Lackey and Neil McCormick.

When Brian was eight years old, he woke-up bleeding in the crawl space beneath his house. Having experienced something so traumatic, his brain has erased the last five hours from his memory. In an attempt to rationalize the missing hours, Brian decides he may have been abducted by aliens. While on the other side of town, Neil is wholly aware of the events of that night in the summer of 1981. For every moment that Brian squeezed his eyes shut, Neil kept his open. Now a gay hustler, Neil is living a fast life of self-destructive misadventures—he’ll be dead before he’s thirty if he doesn’t slow down. When Brian decides to reconcile with Neil, their tragic piece of shared history finally comes to light.

Written by Issy

A Single Man

A Single Man (2009) – source: The Weinstein Company

Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult
Director: Tom Ford
Where to watch: Netflix

We all wish for a white merry Christmas. Somehow, we have connected this cold white exterior with its harshness and its softness to a blissful moment in life that we keep on yearning for year after year. On a snowy day that wasn’t Christmas, George Falconer (Colin Firth), the male lead of Tom Ford’s A Single Man (2009) answers the phone. He answers the phone to find out that his partner, Jim (Matthew Goode), is forever lying still in a wooden box that will soon be placed in the ground. And just like that, on a snowy day in the 1960s, George has to experience his grief in isolation. No room for him in the ceremony. No room for him to say goodbye. This is what makes Tom Ford’s directorial debut so captivating. George isn’t trying to come to terms with his sexuality; he knows exactly who he is in all his pessimistic glory. It’s just that he misses Jim’s optimism and the way he colored his life. Significantly, enticing as the film’s use of color and Abel Korzeniowski‘s film score are, A Single Man is a must-watch due to Firth’s performance; you’ll be marked by it with a kiss.

Written by Ioanna

Carol

Carol (2015) – source: StudioCanal

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson
Director: Todd Haynes
Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video

Carol is adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel, The Price of Salt. Therese Belivet works as a department store clerk as life passes her by. One day, Carol Aird (played by the ever-graceful Cate Blanchett), comes to her counter and into her life, and their encounter sets them on a path of unexpected yearning and heartache.

It is common for romance movies to promise fiery, undying love to their audience; Carol isn’t one of them. This is a film that sips. Supported by the two marvelous leads, the duo slow-dances around their tabooed feelings. Everything is buried deep in restrained conversations and the gaps between the words. Every touch, every glimpse too quick to catch professes tender love. It is no seduction, but a careful testing of boundaries under 1950s patriarchy. When the dam fails, and emotions spill, Blanchett’s powerful performance will sweep you away. With the aid of 16 mm film’s unique texture, and Carter Burwell’s beautiful score, Carol immerses its audience in its delicate melancholy.

Written by Chi-Tsung

Booksmart

Booksmart (2019) – source: Annapurna Pictures

Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Billie Lourd, Diana Silvers
Director: Olivia Wilde
Where to watch: Netflix FR

Booksmart symbolizes a new age of youth – it proves that a diverse cast doesn’t mean diving into identity crises, and an LGBT character can simply exist as an individual.

Non-sensationalist representation is sorely needed nowadays, as the industry continues to push the prerogative of confusion and repression on young LGBT characters. Despite this being an undeniably important topic, Booksmart cleverly chooses to play their characters, instead, as real, modern, human people. Characters who grow up with acceptance instead of self-hatred. Characters we can project onto, and those we can learn from. And we’re all the better for it.

Written by Joseph

The Children’s Hour

The Children’s Hour (1961) – source: United Artists

Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner
Director: William Wyler
Where to watch: Prime Video

It was a few years back when I first stumbled upon William Wyler’s underrated hidden gem, The Children’s Hour. For a film released in 1961, it is distinctive not only in its superb cast (Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine absolutely shine in their roles of Karen and Martha, respectively), but in its bravery for depicting homosexuality in an era riddled with homophobia. In this cautionary tale, young student Mary Tilford accuses her teachers of being lesbians as she seeks revenge over a previous wrongdoing. Her accusation spreads like wildfire through the local community, who, once armed with such information, launches an inescapably cruel crusade.

The Children’s Hour strikes a deep chord, as it slowly builds to the climaxing point where Karen and Martha’s lives are irreversibly changed forever. The sheer tragedy of the film’s final moments left me with a bitter taste in my mouth long after the credits had rolled. As we all get swept up in the celebrations this pride, it’s important to take a step back and remember our history, to remember the generations who weren’t (and still aren’t) lucky enough to thrive in societies of acceptance.

I implore you to take a moment to watch The Children’s Hour, to acknowledge the horrifically detrimental effects homophobia has on society and individuals alike. The landscape may have changed somewhat since 1961, but the message remains the same; whatever you do, don’t be a Mary, kids!

Written by Emily

Boys Don’t Cry

Boys Don’t Cry (1999) – source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Cast: Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Where to watch: Prime Video

Years after first watching this movie in high school, no LGBT film felt more honest to me than Boys Don’t Cry. Hilary Swank gives her best performance as Brandon Teena, a trans man looking for love and purpose in Nebraska only to end in tragedy. It’s not only an important LGBT film that got Swank her first Oscar, but the film also tackles themes of relationships among social class, race and gender. Chloë Sevigny also gives an excellent turn as Teena’s love interest while Peter Sarsgaard also co-stars as a friend of the two lovers. Boys Don’t Cry is hard to watch at points, but I consider it an essential movie.

Written by Doug

Victor/Victoria

Victor/Victoria (1982) – source: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Cast: Julie Andrews, James Garner
Director: Blake Edwards
Where to watch: Prime Video

In “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution,” feminist scholar Judith Butler claimed that the idea of gender is built on a foundation of fantasy, societal expectations and performance. There is nothing inherent to the identity of a woman or a man; rather they are simply constructed identities put on in order to maintain a sense of stability in society.

In Blake Edwards’ 1982 film Victor/Victoria, this performance of gender is seen through the titular character played by Julie Andrews, a down on her luck cabaret performer who dresses up like a man who dresses up like a woman in order to gain notoriety. Victor/Victoria expertly uses drag as a vehicle to see gender as a fantasy both on stage and behind closed doors.

The mere idea that gender is an absolute concrete identity is what is being parodied in Victor/Victoria; which is exemplified in mass confusion from those around her — particularly the men who desire her. Her personal life and relationships get muddy because she is constantly wearing many hats — and how she is perceived is ultimately decided by how she presents herself to the world.

The conversations about gender in Victor/Victoria are indicative of a long history of queer performance theory and the film somehow manages to not only be fun and lighthearted but also increasingly relevant in our modern culture.

Written by Cody

Tangerine

Tangerine (2015) – source: Magnolia Pictures

Cast: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, James Ransone
Director: Sean Baker
Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu

Once again, Sean Baker amazes me with the level of humanity in his work. More than any filmmaker I’ve ever seen, he really seems to understand the fact that for many people living on the outskirts of society, a difficult situation often opens many doors for moments of heartfelt clarity and humour.

Tangerine is a fantastic example of this. It is raw and undisguised, showing its characters not as characters, but as people existing truthfully. It can be incredibly fragile territory for a filmmaker to direct films about communities they do not directly belong to, but in this case it works, because it’s clear that Baker allowed his cast to take the lead and have input into the dialogue and tone of their scenes. Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez give such vibrant performances that really help to make this film the truly sincere gem that it is. I wholeheartedly appreciate their vulnerability and genuineness.

Written by Cheyenne

Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name (2017) – source: Sony Pictures Classics

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Where to watch: Netflix

Is it better to speak or to die?

I find myself drawn into the romances of LGBTQ+ cinema significantly more than those in other films. I believe love is largely about self-discovery, and following the characters of these films as they emerge into an intimate world seen by most as unconventional allows for self-discovery to be expressed in its purest form.

To me, Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name is unquestionably the strongest example of this phenomena. Aside from being fueled by an ensemble of sincere, raw performances, everything going on in this film resonates with such vivid, long-lasting effect. It’s about the immediacy of intimate experiences; the frustration, confusion, multipolarity, and ultimate whimsical euphoria of an evolving young heart. It starts as simple fun: with small gestures and Oliver and Elio’s intrinsic tug of war. They see other people at night but hangout together at the park and water-side by day, spitting out near-resentful comradery while internally questioning whether or not there is a unique spark resting in the space between them.

The age-gap has reasonably raised many eyebrows, but I believe it is where the beauty lies in both their relationship and the tragedy that follows it. Elio asks, “Am I sick?” and Oliver reassures him he is not. He’s seen it before; he himself has been there before. There’s an odd sort of mentorship in their bond that allows Elio to relax and understand that what they have is not only normal, but incredibly special. However, we also know the crushing inevitability from the beginning. Those pulses of emotional frustration and confusion are rolled-out, beaten, and pressed to exhaustion. Oliver’s experienced heart has lived in that exhaustion and can comfortably let go, but Elio’s evolving heart keeps it in its grasp, even if it knows that what it holds onto is no longer attached. What’s key to take from the film’s flurry of messages lies in Michael Stuhlbarg’s much-acclaimed fatherly monologue. He assures Elio that just because something you love doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean you can’t still cherish the time that it lasted for.

Those final words – “I remember everything” – are all at once explosively positive and horribly heartbreaking, because they tell Elio and us as the audience that, regardless of where he is now, Oliver still cherishes what they had, too. The amount of emotional solace in the closing shot…my goodness. This movie is, uh, really great, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.

(Would like to give a warm shout-out to the other films I considered writing about for this piece: Moonlight, Carol, Blockers, and of course 2 Fast 2 Furious.)

Written by Avery

We hope we’ve introduced you to your new favourite movie, or made you want to revisit an old one!

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