REVIEW

Watch With Pride

A list of LGBTQ+ films that you have a whole Pride Month to watch.

by Naya Guseva, Sandra Kuznetsova,
Yar Varsobin, Anastasia Ageeva


03/06/2022

Carol (2015), dir. Todd Haynes
Sustained drama, no tragedy, a tremulous duo of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara with the scenery of winter New York of the 50s. If the above is not enough for you, the film has a couple of aces up its sleeve.

This is a sensual story about feelings that will show no matter how much you try to conceal them. You can't give up your real self, and this is a simple truth that many often forget. Todd Haynes did something incredible and carefully filmed an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1953 novel The Price of Salt. As Patricia Highsmith told, she was inspired to write the novel by a woman in a fur coat she accidentally saw, who was shopping in one of the New York department stores shortly before Christmas 1948. Highsmith denied authorship for 38 years, until she finally agreed to publish a new edition under a new title and with an afterword written by her.

But all these difficulties, including the production of 11 years, were not in vain. I rewatch this film every February 14 — it seems to me that there is no love without pain, self-sacrifice and overcoming difficulties hand in hand. So, if you struggle with self-identification or you just want to watch a movie where the characters get a realistically happy ending, this movie is for you.

– Naya Guseva
Call Me by Your Name (2017), dir. Luca Guadagnino
Yep, the very movie where someone cums in a peach. This is a classic of LGBT films. Even if you haven't watched it, you've probably heard of it, as it was extremely successful upon release and won an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Call Me by Your Name is based on the novel of the same name by André Aciman (2007). This is a story about knowing your bisexuality, about pure but no less important and sincere first love, and that sometimes people can't be together not because of some external factors, but simply because they are who they are.

Feelings between a teenager and an older person always have some doom, but sometimes people decide to be happy here and now, even knowing that they shouldn't have done it. The story of 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) and 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer) is no exception. Elio's father, a professor of archaeology, invites Oliver, a graduate student, to spend the summer with them at his house in Northern Italy and help with his research. But suddenly Oliver and Elio get closer, catching feelings for each other.

The overall impression of the film can be described as aching pain and spreading warmth in the chest. It is popular not only because it has the bingo of the things That People Like: Italy of the 80s, the sea, the sun, the nature, the aesthetics of music and archeology, 35 mm film, warm color palette, a summer romance, tender feelings and sweet and sour aftertaste. Although, of course, this is an insanely visually and musically beautiful film, the story itself is no less good.
It is quite difficult to film a novel that was written in first-person and this is the main problem for the director and screenwriter: how to show what is happening in the character's soul and thoughts? The original script by James Ivory used to have a voice-over, which the director eventually rejected, but that didn't make the film any worse. We understand Elio's feelings, maybe even more and better than if we listened to a voice-over. We are with him in his present, we feel his uncertainty and jealousy, hope and pain, pleasure. Initially, there were supposed to be a lot more sex scenes in the film, but Luca Guadagnino removed them, having decided they were not needed in this film, this is absolutely not about that. However, in my opinion, the only sex scene that we have seen is one of the most tender, sensual and intimate in cinema. It's quite hot and true at the same time. It's also one of my favorite scenes in this movie. The other one is the final scene, when your emotions and Elio's emotions coincide and you experience it together.

This is a suitable film for a warm summer evening when you feel free to love and cry without holding back and not being shy.

PS:
The novel has a sequel "Find Me" (2019), exactly to calm your wounded soul after watching the movie and reading the book. However, this novel is much more commercial and has inconsistencies with the first part. I prefer to think that this is a story in a parallel universe, if you are not satisfied with the ending of the original story.

Luca Guadagnino used to talk about making a sequel to the film, but in the last interview from 2021, he said that work on the film is not underway now and he will not return to this story in the near future. There is no information about this right now. Maybe it's for the best.

– Sandra Kuznetsova
A Hong Kong romantic drama that is appreciated for its realistic portrayal of gay romance. The story tells about two men, Lai and Ho, and their turbulent relationship that turns more abusive after every other breakup. They both left Hong Kong and moved to Argentina wanting to find the Iguazu Falls, but after getting lost and breaking up again, they went separate ways in a new county. Trying to make ends meet, Lai is spending all his time working low wage jobs, unlike his ex, who lives a promiscuous life. They cross their paths multiple times, but all reconciliation attempts fail because of suspicion and jealousy. In the end, Lai meets Chang, his coworker; their friendly relationships become a safe haven for both men.

This movie captivated me with its long, meticulously created shots that have the power to pause the time until the characters are ready for the plot to progress. Wong Kar-wai's color obsession gives the story a new medium to saturate with meanings. Happy Together has the aftertaste of reading a novel but without reading at all; cinematically, it stands near My Own Private Idaho (1991) on a special shelf in my heart. Happy Together is a hundred percent of melancholy spiced up with cigarettes, booze and regrets. The ending makes it worth the wait – there's a light feeling of freedom and hope of connection.
But I'm a Cheerleader (1999) dir. Jamie Babbit
A satirical teenage drama that gives the introspection into how it feels to be gay in a world that doesn't accept you. Megan is a teenager living a normal high school life: she's a cheerleader with friends and a handsome boyfriend. What else can you dream of? One day, she gets home after school and finds out that all her friends and family found evidence of her lesbian tendencies. Confused, Megan gets sent to a conversion camp, where she meets other gay teenagers, who, unlike her, are openly admitting their sexuality. One of them is a raging lesbian, Graham, whom Megan instantly finds fascinating.

This movie tactfully covers important LGBTQ+ issues and touches upon the heavy topic of conversion therapy, but through exaggerations and satire turns it into a comedy. The conversion camp's leader looks foolish when teaching kids heterosexuality and scolding her "heterosexual" son for "acting gay": sipping a drink through a straw or provocatively dancing while doing his chores. Pleasing pastel colors and upbeat, cheerful music make everything feel even more absurd. This movie won't fail to make you laugh and cry. But I'm a Cheerleader has become my favorite coming of age movie!
A British romantic drama that gives a room for unvoiced fears, bottled-up emotions and choked hopes for the future. Johnny, who lives on his family farm in Yorkshire, is not fond of his life, and tends to let out his frustration through drinking and sleeping around. His bad coping mechanisms can't help neither the dying farm nor his elderly and sick dad and grandma. Gheorghe, a migrant worker from Romania, is hired to help tend the animals. Johnny's blusterous nature prevents their relationship from being friendly, but through fights they discover their desire for one another and develop a romantic connection.

From the very beginning of the movie, Brokeback Mountain (2005) comes to mind — you can't help it. Beautiful scenery, along with secrecy of newfound scary love, make every scene captivating. The story unfolds fast, led by the plot points that occur naturally. Both men influence each other as strongly as they can in a short period of time. I love God's Own Country for feelings of serenity and longing, for the realistic portrayal of human emotions. At the end, everything comes out and the tension resolves. I would give everything for many more happy endings in gay movies!

– Yar Varsobin
Ete'85 (2020) dir. François Ozon
To understand the peculiarity of François Ozon, one needs to look closely at his identity. Every single film he makes tells the story of people who want to embrace their own nature, so French director does not always turns his gaze at LGBTQ+ community. Nonetheless, Ete'85 is the adaptation of young adult novel Dance on My Grave about two male teenagers who accidentally met in Normandy during their vacation.

Ozon always conveys his ideas through an appeal to the eternal — most often through the concept of death. Probably, in this way he cuts off all the tinsel that does not mean a thing for immersing his characters' world. The latter suffer like no one else has suffered, and yet they are looking for a reason to stay alive in this very world. According to Ozon's vision, one must die in order to give the other the main understanding of life. The director knows firsthand about accepting himself — and his path was far from looking like a perfectly paved yellow brick road. Even though many of his stories resemble fairy tales — without fairies, wish fulfillment, and an unconditional happy ending — Ozon still embellishes reality, allowing the viewer to see a parable in his films. It is his primal task, while our mission is to learn from these metaphors and not make any foolish mistakes ourselves.
Mathias & Maxime (2019) dir. Xavier Dolan
A company of men who continued communication after graduation are grown-ups now. They have been friends since the earliest years, devotedly and selflessly: they forgive hot-tempered actions of each other and know the shortcomings of everyone in this narrow circle. A strange case brings two of them together in front of the camera sitting closely on the couch and preparing for a kiss. When everything happens, the viewer goes blind — the screen turns black. And a feeling begins to arise in one of those friends.

To say that Xavier Dolan «makes films» is to unequivocally call his activity a profession — which is not. Every one of his cinematic experiments is a statement. The scriptwriting, shooting, post-production — everything that led to a holistic image on the screen is suffered, extracted from the depths of the soul, found in the environment. In Mathias & Maxime, the director seems to be reaching the peak of shamelessness, but only in the way of portraying people's true impulses as they are. The idea is pure and innocent, urging not to be afraid of your feelings, no matter how strange or unnatural they may seem to be. His sincere speech about love that knows no barriers and gender is what attracts people of all faiths and views around the world.

— Anastasia Ageeva
Made on
Tilda