French lesbian movies have a distinctive manner of exploring human nature, especially those in the ‘lily’ (lesbian-themed) category.
They maintain a remarkable balance, neither glorifying nor undermining their subjects. What I find most compelling is their ability to position the audience as a detached observer.
Here is a carefully chosen group of French lesbian films that I think are some of the best in this genre as of 2023. Even though it’s a long top lesbian film list, I’m always looking for new and interesting things to add.
So, please let me know if you have a movie in mind that you think should be on this list or if you have any other suggestions. Please leave a note with your ideas; they will help me make this list as complete and up-to-date as possible.
The piece is pretty long because there are 37 French lesbian movies about lesbians in it. You can navigate through it using the following guide:
I’ve created a YouTube playlist featuring trailers of these French lesbian movies for people who like watching videos. It’s a quick and engaging way to get a glimpse of each film. You can find it on my YouTube channel.
1. Between Us (2022)
I especially related to the remark in the movie, “I tried not loving her and pursued a normal, ordinary life, but I still found myself in love with her.”
This unvarnished honesty truly hits home since it is so vulnerable and innocent-seeming. It’s a moving portrayal of what it means to be human—sometimes silly, often uncertain, but always real.
This French lesbian movie masterfully conveys the core of having trouble expressing one’s genuine emotions while underlining our common hesitation to fully trust ourselves.
2. Anaïs in Love (2021)
The main character of the story, Anaïs, is looking for important connections in a world where she doesn’t feel at home. She’s reckless but kind, and she’s not very good at following through with her plans.
Her mother’s battle with liver cancer is a turning point that shakes Anaïs to her core and makes her run away, which she says she does because she needs room. Even though she’s close to her family, there’s a clear emotional distance between them.
There’s a rush in the way she talks to them that keeps her from fully bonding. Her relationships, like the ones she has with her boyfriend, older guys she meets briefly, and a female writer, are all attempts to build stronger bonds.
However, they often show how she is struggling and wants to understand herself better. As the author of the story says, Anaïs’s actions show what she wants and struggles with inside.
The rising French actress Anaïs Demoustier has been compared to the renowned Isabelle Huppert because of her potential.
Huppert’s performance in “Villa Amalia” (2009) comes to mind when I see this. Interestingly, both “Villa Amalia” and Demoustier’s film feature Henry Purcell’s music and include a mystifying Italian woman pivotal to the plot.
While “Villa Amalia” explores themes of detachment and reconnection with the outside world, Demoustier’s film takes a more subdued approach to these ideas.
3. Benedetta (2021)
The Dutch director, Paul Verhoeven, creates a gripping two-hour movie about Sister Benedetta, a notable figure in religious history, in his own unique style.
Benedetta is portrayed as a passionate believer, a cunning strategist, and notably, one of the few recorded lesbians in religious history. Her portrayal as a figure of authority and power adds layers to her already complex identity, and her character is not limited to her sexual orientation.
Verhoeven’s portrayal, which combines faith, deceit, and power in a ground-breaking way, highlights the complex character of this historical individual.
4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Be cautious when getting to know someone deeply, as it’s surprisingly easy to fall in love. This movie might be the top lesbian movie I’ve seen since “Blue Is the Warmest Color.”
Each lesbian movie scene is filled with strong emotions and is a visual feast akin to classical art, filled with an air of lasting love.
The protagonists, with their indescribable elegance, spark an enduring flame in the viewer’s heart through their mere gaze, creating a lasting impression that remains well after the film ends.
5. Two of Us (2019)
The shift from children revealing their sexuality to their parents, to parents doing the same with their children, mirrors the evolving times and societal progress.
Surprisingly, for a movie with an older lesbian cast at its core, suspense is woven into ordinary life. It serves as a gentle reminder to pay attention to the subtleties, which could conceal intense feelings. The last scene, in which they hug and dance wildly against the backdrop of autumn without their family, captures the spirit of what it means to live truly.
This story has a deep lesson about love, life, and being free to be yourself, no matter what age you are.
6. Knife + Heart (2018)
With its unique blend of nostalgic vibes, thrills, and sensuality, this picture stands out as a unique debut in the genre. Its peculiar twist will especially appeal to the LGBTQ+ audience.
With a denouement that cleverly respects the lengthy history of LGBT cinema, the movie ends with a meaningful statement on its evolution and cultural significance.
7. Summertime (2015)
This film offers a moving and remarkably genuine picture of LGBTQ+ movies, with a sequence where a mother’s overwhelming happiness is contrasted with a daughter’s heartbreaking decision to leave her lover.
Despite its niche appeal and initially seeming like a typically slow-paced French film, it offers a deep exploration of the societal attitudes towards women in the 1970s.
The movie shows how hard it was for many women of that time to break free from the social norms and restrictions of the time.
It draws attention to how attitudes and conventions change over time, allowing once taboo or contentious topics to become more mainstream and undermining the idea of unchangeable social rights and wrongs.
The French lesbian movie is a criticism of how societal conventions are subject to change and how human viewpoints are always evolving.
8. Breathe (2014)
This film brilliantly showcases characteristics commonly associated with women while focusing on their lives. However, it unfolds as a tragic tale where the characters are unable to save each other.
The two main characters are shown to be weak and emotionally dependent on others, yet they are also shown to be deceived by outward appearances.
This leads to a cycle of mutual longing and hurt, highlighting the complexities and vulnerabilities inherent in their relationship.
The story powerfully demonstrates how looks may be deceiving and how underlying needs can cause both pain and connection.
9. Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
A wide spectrum of human emotions and experiences are remarkably authentically captured in the video.
It illustrates the automatic ways in which we respond to our emotions: gorging on food when we’re starving, crying when we’re sad, longing for love when we’re alone, fighting when things get tough, and withdrawing when things hurt.
This story goes beyond Adele’s particular experience to reflect the universal themes in all people’s lives. It’s a portrayal of life in its raw form – real, imperfect, but also filled with moments of beauty and brilliance.
The voyage of love and unending tenderness that embodies the heart of the film is representative of the universal human experience.
10. Farewell, My Queen (2012)
The French lesbian film provides a unique viewpoint from a royal maid in the Palace of Versailles, set against the backdrop of the approaching French Revolution.
Despite having an expansive goal, it is unable to completely convey the nuanced historical story, in part because of its short running length, which leaves out important historical information and a plethora of characters.
This led to some story points and historical accuracy being left out or not fully developed.
Nevertheless, the film wasn’t aimed to be a rigorous historical drama. Its true strength lies in the nuanced and detailed depiction of the maid’s personal journey and transformation. This alone deserves a five-star ranking.
11. Tomboy (2011)
I was moved to tears by the scene in which the mother slapped the child; it struck a deep chord with me.
It serves as a moving reminder that children’s experiences and emotions are real and valid, especially in relation to their gender identification.
Childhood transgender identities may change over time, but it’s important to accept and value a child’s viewpoint and emotions right now. Their emotions and self-identification are sincere and worthy of recognition and support.
12. La robe du soir (2010)
This movie explores similar topics to “The Hunt,” but from a different perspective. It illustrates how individuals with a deep sense of empathy can be profoundly affected by even the smallest gestures of others, intentional or not.
The young girl’s release from her obsessions at the end of the novel highlights a sad reality: some emotional wounds are difficult to fully heal once they have been inflicted.
The film subtly explores the complexities of human interactions and the lasting impact of our actions on others, especially on those more vulnerable.
13. You Will Be Mine (2009)
It seems to be a trait of French directors to capture the essence of love in such an intense, almost obsessive manner.
The relationship between Emma and Marie is deep and nuanced throughout the movie. Marie’s love is more impulsive and tinged with doubt, whereas Emma’s is characterized by commitment and moderation.
The expression “I want to devour you” expresses a deep desire to unite two souls in a way that goes beyond its literal meaning. This deep statement, which highlights the ultimate goal of love, is less about possession and more about the strength of their emotional connection.
This subtle portrayal invites viewers to consider the thin line that separates intense emotion from the need to completely integrate with another, challenging the conventional concept of love and possessiveness.
14. Tel père, telle fille (2007)
The most intimate and airy sex lesbian movie scene I’ve ever seen. Though unidirectional, the way Salomé hugs that blonde is way beyond an ordinary one-night stand, deep and lonely.
It possesses a profound and solitary essence, evoking emotions that surpass the ordinary.
15. Water Lilies (2007)
The film employs swimming as a moving allegory for the experiences of women, skillfully contrasting the calm surface with the hidden hardships and sacrifices.
Directed by a talented young woman, it offers an insightful exploration into a girl’s inner world, her formative experiences, and the harsh realities of growing up. It’s interesting to note that the narrative’s authenticity holds true regardless of the protagonist’s gender, demonstrating the topics’ universality.
The amusing underwater synchronized swimming scenes and the unusual fact that the two tall, chubby characters are left-handed are noteworthy, if unconnected, observations.
This film captures the complexity of puberty and identity, demonstrating the richness and diversity of the narrative from the viewpoint of a young director.
16. Caramel (2007)
Finding out that the principal actor and director of this movie were the same person surprised me.
The metaphor of caramel was a novel and fascinating addition. This film highlights a universal reality: women everywhere have similar doubts about love. It depicts love from the viewpoint of a woman, encapsulating its purity, innocence, and beauty.
Comparing the film to a culinary experience, it’s akin to a French gourmet dish – a sensory feast that’s as rich and delightful in its execution as it is in its flavor.
17. Looking for Cheyenne (2006)
In this poignant love story, two individuals deeply in love are compelled to separate due to clashing beliefs about life. Their persistent unwillingness to split underscores the need for compromise on both ends in order to keep their relationship together.
This story effectively conveys the depth and complexity of emotions by fusing profound romanticism with realism. It speaks beautifully of the plethora of interesting and varied stories that lesbian women have to tell about their experiences, both ordinary and extraordinary.
This French lesbian movie serves as a helpful reminder that there are countless interesting and engaging stories to be told about the wide range of human connections.
18. The Chinese Botanist’s Daughters (2006)
I happened to this movie by accident and was immediately struck by how emotionally poignant it was. The story has a simple premise and realistic characters in a simple setting.
The subtle understatement of Li Xiaoran’s portrayal as An’an, devoid of ornate theatrical flourishes, adds to the overall seamless, authentic, and grounded nature of the movie. It demonstrates how a strong sense of realism in storytelling may result in an intensely real film experience.
The director may have purposefully chosen this theme, which skillfully contrasts male violence with feminine softness throughout the lesbian movie.
Like a calm river in the film, the two female characters’ distinct, resonant voices reflect this contrast and represent the constant, calm flow of love.
Their affection is subtly portrayed, a deep-seated emotion that’s felt rather than flamboyantly displayed, accessible only to those who understand the language of gentle, heartfelt connection.
Their interactions are characterized by a profound love that is devoid of greed or possession, representing a purity of emotion that may find its purest form in the relationship between two kind ladies.
19. Clara’s Summer (2004)
Set in a French school, the film thoughtfully and authentically portrays the emergence of sexual consciousness and the confusion surrounding sexual orientation among teenagers.
Despite being portrayed as innocent, the main character is far from perfect. Her subtle manipulations and sly undertones of resentment authentically capture the complicated and frequently murky inner lives of teenagers.
A sense of lingering introspection and emotional depth is left in the viewer by the film’s open-ended climax, which adds another element of romanticism.
20. Un amour de femme (2004)
Through the perspective of a real woman, the French lesbian movie presents a delicate and nuanced portrayal of the romantic entanglements and subtleties between women.
Marie’s expressions, particularly her penetrating gaze and playful smirk, are especially memorable.
A moving moment is when Marie, looking deeply into Jeanne’s eyes, remarks, “I like to smoke when I am very happy,” revealing her profound contentment.
This sequence, along with others, highlights the movie’s dedication to delving into the depths of human connection and emotion.
21. High Tension (2003)
The film by Alexandre Aja is an exciting break from the typical road serial killer genre, shocking viewers with its original perspective.
The movie is consistently tense and engaging, largely due to the victims’ sensible and strategic responses to danger. It’s different from how victims are usually portrayed in this genre.
The film makes an inventive use of voyeuristic camera angles, resulting in an especially striking combination of sound and imagery. The movie tells a compelling story overall, despite a few minor plot problems.
The unique and startling scenes, like the intense confrontation in a bathroom and the unnerving hide-and-seek moments, add to its impact.
The two female stars’ subsequent success is noteworthy since they went on to become well-known directors and actresses, which is a testament to the skill these women brought to the picture.
22. Nathalie (2003)
The original story’s plot builds gradually, emphasizing the two main characters’ intricate interactions and deft manipulation of one another.
Each weaves a web of seduction and intrigue by using the other as a means to an end. Fanny’s persona is especially complex; she may be sly at times while also flashing flashes of innocence, like in a cab scene, which contrasts with Emmanuelle’s more reflective disposition.
This is highlighted in a deeply moving scene set in a café, where both characters find themselves overwhelmed with emotion.
The French version provides a more engaging and woman-focused tale than the previous Canadian version, which tended to be more male-centric.
The men in the French adaptation play more of a secondary role, enhancing the story that primarily revolves around the female characters and their experiences.
The differences between the two renditions highlight how adaptable cinematic storytelling is since the same story can be viewed from many gender and cultural viewpoints, each of which provides its own distinct emotional depth and insights.
23. 8 Women (2002)
In “8 Women,” a man’s demise is indirectly brought about by the confluence of the individual deeds and secrets of the female characters.
This plot twist is a bold statement by the gay director, highlighting the diversity and complexity of women’s experiences across different ages and eras.
The movie explores the idea of hidden facts, showing how one person’s secret can inadvertently compromise another’s privacy and have a compounding effect on a man. This serves as a metaphor for a wider social commentary.
24. Cold as Summer (2002)
The protagonist of the psychological thriller is Rachel, a single mother who remarkably lacks maternal instincts. Maillot skillfully crafts a tale that is both suspenseful and tense while yet including a hint of compassion.
This movie is a perfect example of how sensitive subjects are handled in a very French fashion; it portrays intricate emotional and psychological landscapes with distinct depth and reality.
25. Femme Fatale (2002)
The opening scene of Brian De Palma’s film is gripping, helped by the captivating score by Ryuichi Sakamoto. It’s possibly one of De Palma’s most overlooked pieces.
Even in situations with strong romantic connotations, the film portrays women with an innate grace that never veers into vulgarity.
This careful balance is best illustrated in the bathroom scene. There’s an intriguing twist at the end that makes you think of vintage crime films.
For those new to De Palma’s films, this particular work stands out as a prime recommendation, embodying his unique style and storytelling finesse.
The film deftly combines lesbian movie scenes from a number of classic films.
It is reminiscent of “Mulholland Drive” in the way that it blends dreams and reality and subtly depicts homosexuality.
The dual narrative style of “Sliding Doors” and “Run Lola Run” is reflected in the framework. The encounter between the lead character Laura and her twin serves as a reminder of “The Double Life of Veronique”.
Finally, the idea covered in “The Butterfly Effect” is hinted at in the plot’s denouement, which is impacted by the protagonist’s choices.
These references highlight Brian De Palma’s dedication to tying together a variety of cinematic strands.
26. Replay (2001)
The movie defies conventional lesbian movie clichés by examining a complex and brittle relationship between two women.
At a pivotal point, Louisa realizes that she has lost her identity due to her intense preoccupation with Natalie.
Natalie is shown as having a strong emotional life but also being naive and self-centered, frequently taking advantage of Louisa’s emotions to get emotional support.
Their bond turns out to be fleeting. The film concludes with a poignant scene where the two main characters cross paths without further engagement, symbolizing the transient nature of their relationship.
27. The Girl (2000)
The French lesbian film features a female vocalist who hides her feelings and loves well, as evidenced by her distinctive black suit and white blouse.
Set in a time when female singers faced significant challenges, she identifies with a painter, a masculine woman representing the defiance of societal norms and biases.
Even if the painter’s masculine characteristics are clearly visible, there is a deep connection formed by her awareness of the singer as a woman.
The story does, however, come to a sad conclusion that emphasizes the nuanced interaction between their relationship and the expectations of the time.
28. Murderous Maids (2000)
The movie explores the lives of Christine and Léa, who depend on one another and work as maids in difficult situations.
It is based on the true life of two sisters in France. Christine is portrayed by Sylvie Testud as a delicate, disturbed, and reclusive maid from a lower social class.
Her character’s spiral into paranoid ideation is shown as a logical development among her ongoing hardships, evoking a sense of profound anguish and transient freedom.
29. Thieves (1996)
The movie deftly blends together what at first glance seems to be disparate and disorganized material without coming across as disorganized.
It has unique elements including queer individuals, homosexuality-related issues, illegal transactions, and philosophical reflections—all of which are told from multiple points of view.
These elements are representative of modern French cinema and literature, which I find especially interesting. To really appreciate this movie’s multi-layered intricacy, several viewings are recommended.
30. Boys on the Side (1995)
This movie focuses on the close friendship between two women, one of which is a lesbian and the other is heterosexual, in contrast to “Thelma & Louise’s” concept of female empowerment.
Situated halfway between passion and friendship, the narrative deftly examines their nuanced relationship.
Among its many complex female characters are the real lesbian Jane, Robin, who handles AIDS with a measured grace, and the innocent Holly, who has always relied on men.
Even while some viewers might not align with their philosophies, their personalities are compelling and offer a variety of life perspectives.
31. French Twist (1995)
The story of the French lesbian movie defies expectations by showing a wife who becomes enamored with a multi-partner lady after discovering her husband’s infidelity.
In their bedroom, she switches her husband for her new companion, forming an unusual family dynamic between the three of them.
French cinema is known for its unpredictable endings, and this one does not disappoint. It alludes to a subtle change in the husband’s priorities.
32. Le Jupon rouge (1987)
The movie may seem unremarkable at first, yet it develops into a moving story. The main female character’s choice to break up with her boyfriend in favor of her friendship with Claude is shown to be more than just a friendship, suggesting a deeper, potentially non-romantic connection with Basha.
The Algerian War and other historical contexts are deftly incorporated into the novel to give it depth. It’s clear that the director takes a unique tack when it comes to depicting lesbian sex romance. A richly nuanced study of its subjects is provided by this reflective picture, which is further enhanced by its exquisite music.
33. The Pirate (1984)
Alma, the primary character of the movie, is shown as having a seductive and enigmatic personality, yet her actions are still unclear.
She struggles between an ordinary existence and unrestrained love until giving in to her intense feelings, which results in a tragic ending.
This film presents a deep, albeit dark, exploration of human nature, hinting at the existence of pursuits in life beyond love.
34. Entre Nous (1983)
The French lesbian movie, which at first glance appears to be a simple lesbian romance, deftly and sensitively addresses the subject of same-sex love.
I like this style because it explores human nature and does a wonderful job of depicting the era.
The director employs a smooth and emotionally impactful style that delicately conveys the characters’ feelings through ordinary experiences.
The film’s ending, which shows a younger “me” sharing a poignant look with the parents, suggests the film is rooted in the director’s own experiences, subtly questioning whether the father’s choice to take the mother from the institution was misguided.
35. Bilitis (1977)
The main theme of director David Hamilton’s work is capturing the transient beauty of adolescent females.
Hamilton, who is regarded by some as an incorrigible artist and an accomplished photographer, often frames his characters as immature teenagers with blown-out skin and flower-like bodies.
The girls swim, play, and wear virtually transparent robes that barely cover their soft bodies in an extremely free school that looks like something out of a Botticelli painting.
They created their own tribal existence on their own, outside of heterosexual marriage’s hypocritical rules and without male or conjugal guardianship.
The old lesbian film, which is set in an ancient Greek lesbian family on the island of Lesbos, contrasts modern bourgeois elements—such as excellent wine and motorcycles—with a purposeful omission of automobiles and advertisements.
The harmonic blending of modern and traditional standards is depicted through the juxtaposition of themes such as physicality with purity, sensuality with innocence, elegance with spontaneity, and so on, creating a utopian picture of ‘natural’ living.
36. I, You, He, She (1974)
A striking example of an art film is Chantal Akerman’s directorial debut, in which she also served as a writer and performer.
Made in eight days, the film stands out for its lengthy, extended shots and scant speech, which is divided into three somber quiet sections.
Key components of art film are reflected in this minimalist approach.
The film’s genuine portrayal of lesbian issues, particularly in the last scene, speaks to the distinct viewpoint that many female directors bring to their work and emphasizes the subtle and naturalistic presentation of such themes.
37. Les Biches (1968)
One could read this movie as a female-centric retelling of “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”
It explores the complicated relationships between two women: a heroine who, although at first seems to ruthlessly take advantage of a female painter’s affection, unintentionally teaches her about the complexities of desire and power.
As the story unfolds, the painter masterfully reverses roles, taking control of the protagonist’s identity and life in the process, resulting in a stunning role reversal.
This storyline arc emphasizes the complex power dynamics in their partnership.
France was one of the first countries to invent movies and has enjoyed a great international reputation, especially art films that have long become the symbol of the French cultural industry. French films have always tried to show an exploration of basic human morality;
French lesbian films contain a lot of connotative shots and beautiful images. Unlike Italian lesbian films, The directors of this country do not intentionally glorify or vilify everyone, they never compromise with flattery, they face every form of life, and maximize the most delicate analysis of human nature.
French films have been instrumental in the development of gay and lesbian cinema, and have greatly contributed to the humanistic concern for LGBTQ+.
France has a long history of artistic excellence and is often hailed as a global leader in the film business. The country was an early pioneer in the medium and has maintained its stellar reputation ever since. From their inception, French cinema has attempted to depict an examination of universal moral principles;
Stunning visuals and provocative shots abound in French lesbian film flicks. This country’s filmmakers maximize the most nuanced examination of human nature without purposefully glorifying or vilifying anyone. They also never compromise with flattery and face all forms of existence.
There has been a substantial humanistic concern for the LGBTQ+ community, and French lesbian movies have played a significant role in the growth of gay and lesbian cinema.
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