Here’s our list of films that shine a light on some much-loved bisexual characters.
Bi-erasure has always been a prominent issue in mainstream media. Whether bisexuality is watered down, misrepresented or not included at all, it’s clear that there’s a severe lack of representation when it comes to the big screen.
However, 2019 saw the release of The Favourite which not only proved that bisexual films can be widely successful and critically-acclaimed, but also showed the importance of representation.
Because of this, we’ve compiled a list of bisexual films that walked so that The Favourite could run. How many have you seen?
Appropriate Behaviour (2014)
Cast: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Hailey Fieffer
Desiree Akhavan, who directed, wrote and starred in this playful and dark comedy, plays the character of Shirin who is struggling to blend her three identities of being: the perfect Persian daughter, the politically correct bisexual and the girl trying to make it in a big city. At the beginning of the film, you quickly find out that the protagonist has recently been dumped, is homeless and has lost her job. We love an overachiever. Throughout the film, we follow Shirin as she tries to retake control of her life with a broken heart and the judgement of her parents. Appropriate Behaviour explores the reality of bisexuality in a real-world context.
Atomic Blonde (2017)
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman
If you’re wondering if blondes really do have more fun, well ponder no more, because in this action-packed thriller Charlize Theron proves that yes, yes they do. Set in 1989, against the back drop of the Berlin wall, Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, a top-level MI6 agent who is sent to Berlin to achieve a list which contains the names of all active agents from both MI6 and the KBG. Upon arriving in Berlin, Broughton comes into contact with the character David Percival, the second protagonist who’s played by James McAvoy. But among all the gun fire and second guessing, Theron’s character is able to fit in an all-bearing sex scene with actress Sofia Boutella who plays Delphine – another MI6 agent. This makes a change from the female lead, though powerful, having to fall in love with her male counterpart. And if you didn’t think Theron was badass enough, the actress was one of the lead producers behind the film and is rumoured to be producing the second one.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Cast: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway
Old Town Road may have been knocked from the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 but nothing says yeehaw like the bisexual duo of Ennis Del Mar, played by Heath Ledger, and Jack Twist, played by Jack Gyllenhaal. Brokeback Mountain tells the tale of the relationship of Del Mar and Twist who meet when they’re both hired by a farmer to herd sheep. Set against the backdrop of the Wyoming mountains in the summer of 1963, Del Mar and Twist develop a sporadic sexual affair that continues long after their initial encounter on Brokeback Mountain. And though the pair both find wives, Del Mar with Alma (played by Michelle Williams) and Twist with Lureen (played by Anne Hathaway) the lovers still rekindle their affair on their annual fishing trip. The film received three Academy Awards and today is still considered a staple of LGBTQ cinema.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalmet, Michael Stuhlbarg
It was the film that captivated everyone in 2018, with its picturesque Northern Italy aesthetics, evocative soundtrack and on-screen romance. You would have to be living under a rock to not know about Call Me by Your Name. While the film has received critical acclaim and mainstream attention, there has been much confusion about the sexuality of the protagonists Elio (played by Timothée Chalmet) and Oliver (played by Armie Hammer), with many fans believing that the characters are gay when in actual fact they’re bisexual. The film starts when Oliver, a 24-year old undergraduate, arrives at Elio’s parent’s summer house as he has been invited by Elio’s father, Samuel, to stay and work on his academic papers. Over the summer, while riding bikes and swimming in the lake, the two develop an intimate relationship. Yet running adjacent to this, Elio still manages to pursue a romantic relationship with his long-time friend Marzia played by Esther Garrell, while Oliver ends up engaged to a woman. The famous line in which the book name derives from summarises the intensity of the characters of the relationship over the summer: “Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine.”
Cast: Kiera Knightly, Fiona Shaw, Dominic West
Kiera Knightly being in a biographical drama is a film worth watching. But Keira Knightly playing a bisexual writer is a biographical drama is a film you have to see. Colette tells the tale of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a young woman from Northern France. Set in the 19th Century, Colette eventually moves to Paris with her husband Willy who refers to himself as an “literary entrepreneur” because he employees ghost writers to write novels for him. When hard times comes, Willy implores Colette to write a novel based on her school days which he later publishes under his by-line. The film sees Colette exploring her identity after the novel’s release which leads to her having an affair with Missy who is a French socialite played by Denise Gough. The film has been considered by critics as Knightley’s best performance yet.
Cast: Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush
Many people know Frida Kahlo for her surrealist Mexican influenced art that dominated the 20th century, but what many people may not know was that the artist was openly bisexual. The name sake film starts by showing the origin story of the artist, played by Salma Hayek, and how she started painting. Throughout the film, we see Frida develop a relationship with the muralist Diego Rivera, played by Alfred Molina, who both encourages her art and her sexual promiscuity with women. Altogether, Hayek plays the part accurately and with ease making it a film worth watching.
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Faye Dunway, Elizabeth Mitchell
Gia is the hidden gem of the bisexual film industry. The biographical film sees Angelina Jolie take on the role of one of America’s first supermodels Gia Marie Cargini. At the beginning of the film, Gia moves from Philadelphia to New York City to become a super model. Upon landing in the big apple she catches the eye of the agent Wilhelmina Cooper, played by Faye Dunway, and quickly starts making her way up the fashion industry ladder. But after Cooper’s death, Gia begins to spiral resulting in the model seeking solace in drugs and begins a love affair with Linda, a makeup artist played by Elizabeth Mitchell.
Cast: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes
What could be worse than the 2017 travesty of The Academy accidentally giving La La Land the award for Best Picture instead of Moonlight? The answer is you not watching the bisexual experience that is Moonlight. Moonlight spotlights the story of Chiron and the three different chapters of his life titled: Little, Chiron and Black. The film tells the tale of Chiron and his experience growing up in a world full of drugs and violence as well as his relationship with his long-time friend Kevin.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer
The murder mystery The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo sees Daniel Craig hang up his James Bond suit and putting on a hat of a financial reporter by the name of Mikael Blomkvist. His investigation into the 40-year-old murder of Harriet Vagner leads him to working with Lisbeth Salander an investigator that is played by Rooney Mara. Salander is considered an enigma not only for her hacking skills but also her relationship with men and women.
The History Boys (2006)
Cast: Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour, Clive Merrison, Dominic Cooper, James Corden, Russell Tovey
Deriving from the much-loved play by Alan Bennett, the film focuses on a class of charismatic, unruly, boys and their pursuit to get into Oxbridge. Throughout the film you bare witness to each boys journey of trying to fit an academic criterion while at the same time trying to understand themselves. You see the character of Posner, played by Samuel Barnett, struggle with his homosexuality while the character of Dakin, played by Dominic Cooper, crosses into the realms of bisexuality when a new professor arrives. The film is a testament to the fluidity of sexuality and knowledge, summarised in the quote from Bennett “the transmission of knowledge is an erotic act.”
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Author: Harry Archer