What exactly makes a film a lesbian film? Does it simply need lesbian characters, or should it focus totally on lesbian storylines? That is something that each individual needs to decide for themself.
Within this list, there are a couple of movies that have different themes, but we’ll just roll with them.
If you’re curious about exploring the triumph and challenge of finding love, gaining acceptance, and reaching self-acceptance, here are some fascinating films presently available on Netflix.
16 Best Lesbian Movies on Netflix
16- Carol (2015)
IMDb 7.2 – Drama, Romance
This movie is set in the 1950s and received around 25 major award nominations. It is centered around a book by Patricia Highsmith, originally called The Prince of Salt, written in 1952.
The screenplay was started in 1997 by Phyllis Nagy but stalled due to various issues. The warm and loving Cate Blanchett and the talented Rooney Mara star in the movie.
It was taboo for lesbian couples to have an open relationship at the time, even in New York. Throw in a woman with a past involved in a messy divorce, and a younger, aspiring photographer in a dead-end relationship of her own and the recipe for potential love and conflict marinates.
A prior error, threats with a gun and a soon to be ex-husband threatening to divulge her lifestyle and use it against her in a custody battle is just the beginning.
Update: No longer on Netflix but is available on Vudu and Amazon Prime Video
15- Ana e Vitoria (2018)
IMDb 6.7 – Biography, Comedy, Music
Based on a real-life Brazilian music duo, Anavitória, the film is about the beginning of their relationship. Ana Clara Caetano and Vitória Falcao both play themselves in this opposites-attract journey.
The movie is in Portuguese and has English sub-titles and includes music from their 2nd album O Tempo e Agora.
It starts as an apparent music video and flows nicely into their first, or really second, time meeting. The tale is very light and enjoyable and makes use of social media well.
The story is a true love story in a real yet adorable way. It is about the journey they took together while dealing with the ups and downs of being in separate relationships with other people.
Remember always to bring a fire extinguisher to your first professional meeting. You can never be too safe.
Favorite line: That’s the kind of thing that makes me believe love exists. That it’s a magical thing, and one day it will get you. You’ll make baby voices for someone, one day.”
14- Below Her Mouth (2016)
IMDb 5.5 – Drama, Romance
This Canadian drama stars Natalie Krill and Arika Linder as two women living in Toronto who meet by chance and begin a frenzied affair. This contains more erotic scenes than most others on this list.
One woman recently ended a relationship, and the other is four years deep into one with a man. They are from different ends of the socio-economic spectrum, which could, in part, put an end to their relationship quickly. Throw in another or two issues, and this tale is ripe for conflict.
Can a fashion editor and the owner of a roofing company find true love together? Will a random stop at “a girl party” change both of their lives forever? Will a curiosity turn into something more meaningful?
Directed by April Mullen and written by Stephanie Fabrizi Below Her Mouth, only used females on its production crew.
Favorite lines: “I love you. Say something.” “Something.” “Grow up.” “Ok, I’m moving out.”
‘I’m curious. Why do women love roofers?” “You have to go out with me to find out.”
“I told some of my friends at work about you.” “What did you tell them?” “Everything.”
13- Duck Butter (2018)
IMDb 5.3 – Comedy, Drama, Romance
One likes to play it safe and is uptight. The other is free and goes for it…life…all the time. One is an actor, the other a singer, both struggling to make their careers happen.
Can a single event, even a negative one, change your life forever? Is it possible to condense and experience an entire relationship in 24 hours?
Will it last the 24 hours? Is there a happily ever after? Or do old habits die hard, hard enough to stop a new relationship from blooming? Is the promise of having sex every hour sufficient to keep both engaged?
Directed by Miguel Arteta, starring Alia Shawkat and Laia Costa. Both Arteta and Shawkat wrote the screenplay.
Favorite line: “You are so beautiful. Say it to the moon.” “I am so beautiful!” they yell in unison.
12- Elisa & Marcela (2019)
IMDb 6.4 – Biography, Drama, Romance
This Spanish film is entirely shot in black and white and stars Natalia de Molina and Greta Fernández. This is based on a true story about two women who were married in 1901. They were the first same-sex marriage in Spain.
How they managed to pull that off, and the results of that marriage are one heck of a story. At what cost, though? Is true love worth fighting a nation who condemns them? Is it worth all of the pain and their sacrifices?
The cinematography is magnificent, by the way. As a period piece, this is well done.
Randoms: Umbrellas are overrated. Women wore all the layers of clothing, in part, to hide books. Who knew?
Most impactful lines: “I know that in school, you must learn, yes? But not too much. Not too much. Just enough, hmm.”
“All I knew was misery and filth and praying.”
“If I were to die at this very moment, my day with you at the sea would be the happiest of my life.”
11- The Feels (2017)
IMDb 5.2 – Comedy, Romance
The Feels definitely gives all of those – “the feels.” Starring Constance Wu and Angela Trimbur, this rollercoaster story centered around a bachelorette party that provides the full spectrum of emotional highs and lows.
What could be more upsetting than accidentally exposing your deepest, darkest secret to your closest friends while high? A secret that not even your bride-to-be knows. This opens the floodgates for more hilarity to rush out.
Director Jenée LaMarque works that fine line of presenting something so painful to watch that you really don’t want to keep watching, but you feel compelled to do so. While some of these antics were improvised, the character Helen takes it to a completely different level. I loved her, and you will too.
Favorite lines: “I am self-sufficientado.” “You guys are ready for some sandwiches(while doing finger pistols at each word).” “What about my throb spot. Because I started feeling weird in my pants, it was crazy.”
10- Growing Up Coy (2016)
IMDb 5.7 – Documentary
This is a documentary about a Colorado family that had to file a civil rights complaint so that their six-year-old transgender daughter could use the girl’s bathroom in school. This was instrumental in providing transgender people legal protections in Colorado and then later in other states.
Directed by Eric Juhola, the movie received positive reviews noting its timeliness and how it humanizes people in the transgender community.
This follows the family for a few years and shows the immense difficulties the family had dealing with the unwanted notoriety. Their legal battle affected nearly every aspect of their life.
Update: No longer on Netflix
9- Loving Annabelle (2006)
IMDb 6.3 – Drama, Romance
This romantic drama from director Katherine Brooks tells the story of Annabelle, a senator’s daughter, who has been kicked out of two high schools. She is now at an all-girls private Catholic school and immediately falls for her poetry teacher.
Annabelle, whose mother seems to be trying to hide her away, is not Catholic, has a nose ring, and is contentious about wearing her Buddhist beads.
Annabelle, having been expelled from two previous schools, forms a quick connection with her new poetry teacher, who she pursues endlessly.
Notable fact: The comic book Teachers Pet, Sisters of Mercy, is only too appropriate as a background prop.
Favorite lines: “You think I am an asshole, don’t you.” “Sometimes.”
“I can’t.” “Why?” “Because I am not interested in being your science project.”
“The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust
8- Mater (2017)
IMDb 4.5 – Drama
Based on the play, Wind in the Violin, this film was made in Argentina by director Pablo D’Alo Abba. The movie stars Tamara Kiper, Marina Bellati, Inda Lavalle, and Lautaro Perotti.
A couple wants to further their relationship by having a child. While there may be a few ways for a lesbian couple to do this, they choose an unorthodox method.
When the overcontrolling mother of the donor finds out, it puts their relationship to the test. Is family by blood stronger than family by choice?
Legal threats, along with socio-economic differences, play a part in how this ends. Who really has a say in who raises the baby?
Favorite lines: “Let’s play again. One. Two. Three. He has dark eyes.”
“Let’s find a way to raise this baby together.”
7- The Perfection (2018)
IMDb 6.1 – Drama, Horror, Thriller
Directed by Richard Shepard and written by Shepard, Nicole Snyder, and Eric C. Charmelo. Starring Allison Williams, Logan Browning, and Steven Weber.
Are you perfect? Can anything be perfect? This film, with a lesbian lead character, is actually more of a psychological horror-thriller. A former musical prodigy is snagged back into an elite school when the latest prodigy, and her fan, begins to make waves.
This is a fun twisty ride to watch with more than one turn that will keep you guessing what is real and what isn’t. Can two strong-willed and exceptionally talented students get along? Or can they learn to work together while being pitted against each other?
What is the cost of reaching your potential? How far should a teacher push their students? Are there punishments for not reaching expectations? These questions and more are addressed in such an interesting way.
Favorite lines: “I was 9 when I first saw you perform. You were 14 and everything I wanted to be. My idol. Please don’t be nervous around me, Charlotte.”
6- Teenage Cocktail (2016)
IMDb 5.8 – Drama, Thriller
This dramatic thriller is directed and written by John Carchietta. A young lesbian couple, played by Nichole Bloom and Fabianne Therese, think their high school lives suck. What better way to fix that by making some cold hard cash becoming sex cam girls.
As typical youth, they can’t see past the money as a way to get away from their nagging parents. Unfortunately, everything is not as it appears, and a price eventually needs to be paid.
That ending. Does it flow with the rest of the movie? Does it make sense? It certainly is one hell of a change.
Update: No longer on Netflix but is available on Amazon Prime Video and Vudu
5- 3 Generations (2015)
IMDb 5.9 – Drama
3 Generations, also known as About Ray, is primarily a transgender movie rather than a lesbian movie. This very compelling watch is directed by Gaby Dellal and written by Dellal and Nikole Beckwith.
This stars Elle Fanning as Ray, a teenager starting the transition process from female to male after six years of realizing who he really is. The mother is Naomi Watts, the lesbian grandmother is Susan Sarandon, and Ray’s father, Sam Trammell.
Ray’s Mom needs to track down her father to get his permission for the transition, but everything isn’t as it seems. Everyone has their level of acceptance about what Ray wants to do, with each coming out in comical ways.
Favorite lines: “Why can’t she just be a regular lesbian?” “I am pretty excited because I gained 5 pounds this week. I am counting down the weeks until I start the T.”
4- The Tree of Blood (2018)
IMDb 6.4 – Drama
In this Spanish drama, set in the present, a young couple decides to discuss and write out their shared family histories. Dark secrets from the past and present end up being revealed.
The intertwined tales roll and weave into each other, sometimes like fine wine and at other times like a failed relationship. Even the Russian mafia is involved somehow.
Julio Medem is the director and writer of this film, which stars Alvaro Cervantes and Ursula Corbero.
Factoids: Hugging a tree and pretending to be a tree are two completely different things. Watch out for falling cows.
Favorite lines: In response to a baby crying. “Those voices are driving me crazy. Those voices are driving me crazy.”
“Do you like cows?” “I am a bull.” “This area is full of cows.”
3- Floating (2015)
IMDb 4.3 – Comedy, Drama
Floating, also known as The Raft, was written and directed by Julia C. Kaiser and was made in Germany. While the reviews for this movie were mixed, it is entertaining in its way.
Julia Kiser and Anna Konig star as a couple who are about to be married and have their separate bachelorette party. Of course, things go awry for them both, and they have to confront issues from the past to move forward.
A few interesting topics are addressed, but not always in a way that you would expect. While the comedy isn’t that strong and the dialogue is fairly weak, Kiser and Konig are strong enough actors to make the movie worth watching.
Update: No longer on Netflix but is available on Amazon Prime Video
2- Freeheld (2015)
IMDb 6.6 – Biography, Drama, Romance
Written by Ron Nyswaner and directed by Peter Sollett Freehled, this stars Julianne Moore and Ellen Page. This is based upon a short documentary, also called Freeheld, made by Cynthia Wade in 2007.
Lieutenant detective Laurel Hester was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Laurel wanted her female partner to be able to receive her pension benefits after she passed away. When the county refused, she took action and appealed their decision again and again.
A couple meets, they date, buy a house together and spend years together building and living their life together. Why should what sex they are, make a difference when it comes to end-of-life issues and finances?
Favorite lines: “In my 23 years as a police officer, I have never asked for special treatment. I am only asking for equality.”
“Every now and then, you should go out…” “…and try and meet someone.”
“The only thing I care about is justice for the woman I love.”
Update: No longer on Netflix but is available on Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies, and Vudu
1- Margarita with a Straw (2014)
IMDb 7.2 – Drama
Directed by Shonali Bose and written by both Bose and Nilesh Maniyar, Margarita with a Straw was shot in India and New York. Kalki Koechlin plays a young woman, Laila, who has cerebral palsy, and Sayani Gupta’s character, Kalki, is blind.
They meet by chance at a protest when Laila uses her wheelchair to carry Kalki so that she is not arrested when the police start throwing tear gas at the crowd. Their friendship begins and eventually grows into more as they care for each other, as caregivers and also as lovers.
Relationship decisions can be challenging to make, especially when close family members are not supportive. When one character comes out, it does not go well.
The numerous obstacles these two beautiful women have to overcome to be fiercely independent themselves, but then also as a couple, is extraordinary. It makes you question your own life and pushes you to find a way around your obstacles, just as Laila and Kalki do. That is what a great movie can do.
Favorite line: “For me, I just like to be who I am all the time.” “For me, it’s scary.”
Update: No longer on Netflix but is available on YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies, and Vudu
Bonus Fan Suggestion movies found on various streaming services:
- Lesbian Vampire Killers
- Better Than Chocolate
- Tell it to the Bees
- The Killing of Sister George
- When Night is Falling
This has been edited, updated and expanded by Brian Piotrzkowski
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