The image of homosexuality and queerness in cinema has evolved since the 1960s, when the LGBT theme, long censored, began to develop. The time of La Cage aux Folles and Pédale douce, which shared an extravagant, mannered, and reductive portrait of the queer community, is over. No, queer people are not depraved sex addicts, as depicted in the 1933 silent short film Lot in Sodom.
However, it was not until Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain in 2006 that homosexuality became democratized and integrated into the mores. Today, cinema tends to be more truthful and respectful. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and see some of the best queer movies.
If the representation of queer couples seems to be more common in TV series today, it has not always been the case. Prior to the 1980s, displaying sexual orientation, especially homosexuality and queerness, in a TV series was not a popular choice for society and viewers.
Except for representing a population considered at the time as marginal, unbalanced, sick, or asocial, same-sex love relationships were not put forward. The subject is still taboo. Everything must remain suggested or ambiguous rather than clearly expressed.
Fortunately, the representation on the screen of lesbian or gay relationships has evolved and is more and more present since the 1990s. Today we have the opportunity to discover some LGBTQIA+ series on Netflix that put forward interesting, deep, and less and less caricatured roles of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans characters.
1. Call Me By Your Name
Summer of 1983. The last carefree moments of a world still spared from AIDS. David Bowie, Johnny Cash, and Duran Duran are playing over and over on the airwaves. Somewhere in a country house in Northern Italy, Luca Guadagnino sets up his queer romantic fresco adapted from André Aciman’s novel.
It is the story of a queer love affair and the awakening of desire between Elio Perlman, a young Franco-American just 17 years old on vacation with his family, and Oliver, a student who has come to deepen his knowledge of Greco-Roman culture with Elio’s father. Timeless and spiked with 80’s accents, the duo’s wardrobe evokes the ardor of a bohemian summer and the sensuality of bodies languishing in the sun.
2. 120 Beats Per Minute
At the beginning of the 90s, AIDS has been ravaging for about ten years, and few people are aware of it at the time. The Act-Up Paris activists are there to raise awareness during the time of happenings. Among this small group of committed people, Sean, a young eccentric with an unalterable conviction, HIV positive since he was 16, falls under the spell of Nathan, a charismatic and healthy young man, who decides to commit himself body and soul to the association.
The character of Sean, played by the troubling Nahuel Perez Biscayart, an Argentinian-born actor spotted in Benoît Jacquot’s Au fond des Bois in 2010, is surely one of the association’s most enraged activists. He is not afraid of violence; he engages in a fight with his body. At the beginning of the film, a nervous body that, sick, will lose weight as it goes along until it is abandoned in a love story with a tragic ending.
3. Matthias and Maxime
Xavier Dolan’s credo in each of his films? To sublimate relationships, whether they are singular or complex. With Matthias and Maxime, in which he plays one of the main roles, Xavier Dolan wanted to return to a more intimate cinema.
Two childhood friends have to kiss for a short film directed by the young Erika, the sister of a member of their group. They didn’t know that this kiss and budding romance would challenge their feelings and turn their lives and their band of friends upside down.
4. Kill Your Darlings
First love experiences, youth on acid, queerness, and murderous madness… The (true) story of Kill Your Darlings takes place during the Beat Generation. More than a simple literary movement, it is a revolution in the world of writing. In Manhattan, in August 1944, Lucien Carr (Dans DeHaan), a friend of Jack Kerouac’s whom he met through his wife, Edie Parker, kills David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall).
The latter was a gym teacher fourteen years older than him with whom Lucien has a very ambiguous relationship, with a knife. He weights the body with stones before throwing it into the Hudson and asks Jack Kerouac, the poet and writer Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), for help in concealing his crime. The latter, under Lucien’s spell, hesitates for a long time.
5. A Single Man
Simply overwhelming. Written by Tom Ford himself (let’s not forget that the fashion designer is also a director), A Single Man portrays George Falconer (Colin Firth), a university professor who has lost all faith in life since the accidental death partner.
His friend Charley, played by the excellent Julianne Moore and one of his students, witnessed his sadness which plunges him into a deep depression. Tom Ford told Hamish Bowles for Vogue, “My greatest achievement was making A Single Man. I love Nocturnal Animals, but A Single Man is such a personal film.”
I said it then, and I’ll say it again: when Jack (Tom Ford’s son) grows up, if he wants to know who I was at 48, all he has to do is watch this film. I modeled George’s character after mine. It’s very personal. Being able to express all of that was the most fun and rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
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