From Morocco to Bound: How lesbians are portrayed in mainstream movies (Part 4/4)
The New Queer Cinema movement of the early 1990’s (“Go Fish”, “The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love”) and the media’s brief flirtation with the Lesbian Chic phenomenon (launched by the Vanity Fair cover of supermodel Cindy Crawford “shaving” k.d.lang) pave the way for new attitudes. Gay women become more attractive to general audiences, appearing in movies as unapologetic protagonists whose sexual orientation is secondary to the plot in mainstream movies.
Heavenly Creatures, 1994
Directed by Peter Jackson, starring Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet
“Based on the true story of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker, two close friends who share a love of fantasy and literature, who conspire to kill Pauline’s mother when she tries to end the girls‘ intense and obsessive relationship.” From imdb.com
It’s the early 90’s, and lesbians are starting to appear as main characters in mainstream movies, albeit still with a murderous twist. Based on a true story, Peter Jackson’s biopic deals with two schoolgirls who build an elaborate fantasy world that shatters when one of their mothers finds out what they’ve been doing together. More intrigue was added after the movie was released, when Winslet’s character turned out to be based on the real-life past of mystery writer Anne Perry, who used to be Juliet Hulme.
There’s a great love story behind the insanity, but depending on how old you are, you may feel a bit like a pervert watching two teenagers kissing.
Directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski, starring Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly
“Corky, a tough female ex con and her lover Violet concoct a scheme to steal millions of stashed mob money and pin the blame on Violet’s crooked boyfriend Caeser.” From imdb.com
No doubt encouraged by the mainstream’s growing acceptance of Lesbian Chic, which influenced many (and obviously still does: what’s the name of this site again?) in the early 1990’s, the Wachowskis made the first mainstream movie to star female gay characters whose sexuality is not the driving force of the plot. With Gina Gershon as a very cute ex-con turned plumber (!) and Jennifer Tilly as her seriously curvaceous love interest. The two steal money from a mobster and get to have a happy ending. A sexy film noir-style suspense flick full of hot lesbian sex.
Directed by Lucas Moodysson, starring Alexandra Dahlström, Rebecka Liljeberg and Erica Carlson
“Two teenage girls in small-town Sweden. Elin is beautiful, popular, and bored with life. Agnes is friendless, sad, and secretly in love with Elin.” From imdb.com
Although not technically a Hollywood film, Lukas Moodysson’s „Fucking Åmål“ counts as a blockbuster since it beat out “Titanic” at the box office in Sweden when it was released and made Moodysson an international sensation. More about the devastation of teen angst & loneliness and suburban boredom than the difficulty of coming out, the straightforward depiction of the relationship between nerdy Agnes and cool Ellin also offers an exceptionally sweet story of first love.
Directed by Angela Robinson, starring Sara Foster and Jordana Brewster
“Plaid-skirted schoolgirls are groomed by a secret government agency to become the newest members of the telite national-defense group, D.E.B.S.” From imdb.com
Barely out of high school, Amy gets recruited by the US government to this top young team of agents that fight crime. When she and her team are sent to capture the beautiful crime boss Lucy Diamond, Amy falls for Lucy and chaos ensues. A silly, funny spoof of spy movies that treats the love story between two young women so casually it’s tempting to say the girl-on-girl aspect doesn’t matter – except that the movie would be dead boring without lesbianism as a gimmick.
Hannah Free, 2009
Directed by Wendy Jo Carlton, starring Sharon Gless, Maureen Gallagher and Kelli Strickland
“A film about a lifelong love affair between an independent spirit and the woman she calls home.” From imdb.com
An older lesbian reflects back on her life and relationship with another woman, who is now in the hospital in a coma. A disappointment to women obsessed by Gless since “Cagney & Lacey” – they finally get their wish of seeing her play gay, but have to fight off sleep to do so. When a mainstream movie about lesbian love manages to be this boring, you know they finally consider us to be normal.
We have arrived.