In a time where LGBT characters in TV and film are killed off for either an empowering message on HIV or suicide (or for the mere shock value of it) or break up to manufacture a depressing conclusion, it’s definitely not a crime to ask for more queer movies that don’t end in tragedy. Which is why we’ve rounded up a list of quality queer films that will actually leave you on a positive high for once. After all, everyone deserves a happy ending.
Closet Monster (2015)
Closet Monster centers on Oscar Madly, a creative teenager haunted by a horrific, traumatic memory from his past. Equipped with an artistic mind and the drive to pursue his dreams, Oscar hopes to escape his hometown and the nightmare from his childhood that’s caused him to repress his sexuality. With eccentric costumes, bold characters, and a talking hamster named Buffy, this subtle coming out story is a cinematic masterpiece that you have to watch.
The Handmaiden (2016)
Originally titled Ah-ga-ssi, The Handmaiden is a South-Korean erotica-laced psychological thriller. The story, set in 1930’s Korea, follows Sook-hee, a lowly pickpocket who is hired to pose as a handmaiden to Lady Hideko, a Japanese heiress unknowingly caught in the malicious ploy of a conman wanting to defraud her. Count Fujiwara’s plans are foiled, however, when the two women fall madly in love with each other and hatch a plan of their own to be together.
The Way He Looks (2014)
Written and directed by Daniel Ribeiro, The Way He Looks is a coming-of-age romantic drama set in Brazil, and is based on the short film titled I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone. Leonardo, a blind teenager, hungry for independence and freedom from his boring routine life encounters change in the form of a newcomer in their town, handsome and charming Gabriel. The movies explores the common themes of friendship, love, individuality, and bullying.
Saving Face (2004)
Equal parts hilarious, heartbreaking, and heartfelt, Saving Face centers on the lives of a Chinese-American mother-daughter tandem as they navigate the intricacies and difficulties of living their truth under the meticulous gaze of a tight-knit Chinese community and their strict traditions and norms. Wil hides her budding relationship with the gracious and beautiful Vivienne from her mother, while the latter has a secret of her own as she suddenly has to face the stigma of being pregnant and alone at the age of forty-eight, refusing to divulge the identity of the father.
A Girl at My Door (2014)
Starring Sense8’s Bae Doona, A Girl at My Door is a drama that brings to life the uncomfortable reality of homophobia in South Korea. Bae plays young cop, Lee Young-nam, who is relocated to a small town where she meets, and takes in an abused teenager named Do-Hee. Yong-ha, Do-Hee’s abusive stepfather, under pretense, soon accuses Young-nam of inappropriate physical behavior towards her stepdaughter, wrongly sending her to jail. The plot may sound dark and depressing but, spoiler alert, it ends on a hopeful note with Young-nam asking Do-Hee to come with her.
Handsome Devil (2016)
This Irish drama focuses on two boys who meet as roommates and form an unlikely bond in a boarding school where rugby is practically the religion. Their budding relationship is dampened and tested by the authorities around them for their own selfish concerns. Everything about the film is familiar, from the high school setting, to the voice-over, to the yellow and purple school colors brandished unabashedly throughout the movie, and the cliché premise of loner meets star-athlete. It almost resembles a Disney Original Movie aesthetic, except, Handsome Devil’s lesson isn’t obnoxiously on the nose. Delivered with quiet subtlety, John Butler’s film is poised to leave you with a warm heart and high spirits.
An unlikely alliance is formed when U.K. gay activists join together with a band of miners on strike, against Margaret Thatcher in the summer of 1984. Pride is a powerful historical comedy-drama with a talented ensemble cast who deliver an empowering dramatization of a political revolt, while remembering to tug at heart strings with well-rounded characters grounded in their own individual story lines.
Divided into three parts, Moonlight chronicles the life of Chiron and the defining moments that lead him into the strong yet vulnerable man that he eventually becomes. Painfully real and raw, this Oscar award winning film undoubtedly merits all the praise and accolades as it openly explores the difficulties of being black and gay in a one-track world. The heaviness of the film is contrasted with, and redeemed by the people in Chiron’s life who guide and support him with the love and kindness he needs and deserves.–PB&Jam