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Lesbian Movie Reviews: Died / Recanted / Unhappy/ Came out – Portrait of a Marriage

Friday, March 11, 2016 - 08:00

I’m re-posting (sometimes in expanded form) a series of reviews of lesbian-themed movies that I originally drew up in answer to a request for recommendations of "good movies involving lesbian romances that don't end up with the protagonists deeply unhappy, dead, or both." To this set of criteria I’ve added the question, “Is the story primarily about coming out?” This set of index questions will necessarily involve some spoilers, but since I'm not reviewing any current releases, I think the statute of limitations has expired.

Many of these items are not currently in print. I'll link each to their entry for reference. But for those currently available, Wolfe Video is the go-to distributor for lgbt movies.

This concludes this set of “re-published” reviews. I still have a long list of lesbian-themed movies on video to work my way through. Most often, when I watch videos, it’s while I’m doing some other activity and I want background entertainment. So I need to carve out some pure viewing time to continue this series.

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Portrait of a Marriage (1990) Mini-series biopic about the lives and loves of post-WWI English politician Harold Nicolson, his wife the famous Vita Sackville-West, and her lover the manipulative and needy Violet Keppel. Nicolson and Sackville-West were both bisexual and had what would now be considered an open marriage. Portrayals like this point out how the difference between “open marriage” and “series of sordid little affairs” is often entirely in how society frames the events. In an age where neither open marriages nor bisexuality were socially acceptable, it should come as no surprise that the story Does Not End Happily.

Nobody is "punished by death" but there's a strong over-arching theme that same-sex relationships are doomed to unhappiness and failure, by nature of the pressures around them. Not really a coming-out story, as such. I don’t recall at this point whether there was anything that could be considered recanting. (In biographies of this sort, there’s often a desire to “redeem” the central figure by interpreting a continuing primary relationship as indicating a desire to recant.)