There was a time when the romantic relationship between the lead pair of any movie used to be the fulcrum of the whole story, even if the main plot line was something entirely different. And needless to say, they always belonged to the opposite genders.
But times have changed. There are well-made movies which does not necessarily bring up the romantic angle and seal the deal in the end with a kiss, ‘Pretty Woman’ style; that movie remains a cult though. But on the other hand, more and more soul-stirring movies are being made now which explore the other forms of love, romance and sexuality over and above the most socially accepted one.
Some movies are entirely based on relationships between LGBTQ people; some have the journey of self-identity at its centre, while some others use it as an important subplot of the script. Nonetheless, with every passing day, as the world becomes more accepting towards the LGBTQ community, world cinema is making its own contribution.
Here are five movies that have brilliantly portrayed the exploration of the nuances of being a LGBTQ member and its various consequences.
- THE HOURS
The Hours is a 2002 British-American drama film directed by Stephen Daldry. The movie involves the lives of three women suffering from depression and confused sexuality from three different times, all interwoven with one particular novel called ‘Mrs Dalloway’. While the ailing novelist Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) sits in 1923’s England writing the book, a pregnant mother Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) reads it in Los Angeles, 1951, contemplating leaving her husband and suicide, and a lesbian publisher, Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep) in New York, 2001, wonders if she is in love with her dying friend, Richard (Ed Harris), who nicknamed her ‘Mrs Dalloway’. A tale of confusions and much real conflicts, this movie blends in the questioning of sexuality in its tale of twists effectively.
- THE DANISH GIRL
In mid-1920’s Copenhagen, a portrait artist Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) asks her husband Einar Wegenar (Eddie Redmayne) to stand in for a female model who was late for the posing. Later, the couple played an inside prank by dressing up Einar as a woman to a party, disguised as her shy cousin. But these actions unmasked Einar’s lifelong identification as a woman. Eventually he underwent one of the first documented sex-reassignment surgeries to physically become Lili Elbe from Einar with the support of his wife; but due to complications in the operation, that resulted in a premature death of the artist. Based on a true story, Tom Hooper spins a beautiful tale of helplessness, plea and self-identity that transgenders have to go through till date.
- THE COMEDIAN
Tom Shkolnik’s underrated movie The Comedian set in middle-class London has a call-centre worker (Edward Hogg) working hard to be successful as a stand-up comedian. After a failed gig, the protagonist falls for a man he meets on a night bus (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). But as things looked up for him, he started to grow feelings for his female flatmate (Elisa Lasowski). Painfully relatable in places, the story talks about all of us who have been unsure of what is happening in and around their lives and torn between two options – whether we choose one or we learn to accept both.
In a country where falling in love is still restricted with various conditions in places, non-normative sexual relationships have no doubt found very few mentions on the big screen. But there have been bold exceptions. Deepa Mehta’s Fire shows us two women (Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi), sisters by law, being shunned by their husbands because of different reasons. Lonely and frustrated, they find love, solace and a partner in each other and finally manage to leave their old lives behind. This movie is one of the first and few movies that have explored LGBTQ relationships on the Indian screen.
- BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Perhaps the most popular and path-breaking movies for the LGBTQ community as well for cinema at large, Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain is a heart-wrenching story of two ‘straight’, white, cisgender males – Jack Twist(Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) who fall for each other while cowboying in their youth. They grow old with time, get married and have family, but they never stop loving each other. One of the most poignant and heartbreaking movies ever across all genres and genders, the ending leaves everyone wishing the world was a kinder place and knew more love.
- A SPECIAL MENTION
Even though not primarily an LGBTQ movie, Jared Leto’s portrayal of Rayon, a transgender in Dallas Buyer’s Club is one of the most spectacular character acts on the silver screen, which also won him an Academy award for best supporting actor –male.