The Best Lesbian Movies With Less Than 20% on Rotten Tomatoes

Oh, film critics. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. Or maybe it’s if you can’t beat them, join them? That’s what I did anyway. I love film criticism! What I’m less enthused about is the contemporary tendency to log onto Rotten Tomatoes dot com to look at a percentage score rather than using it as a way to find reviews to read.

There are more female critics and queer critics now than ever before and that’s reflected in the numbers of a lot of recent queer women films. But in the 90s and 00s our films were rarely judged by us and, as a result, a lot of films — including absolute classics like But I’m a Cheerleader — got panned.

I’m not here to talk about movies like Jamie Babbit’s now undisputed masterpiece. I’m here to talk about the films that might not be masterpieces, but are still deserving of a second look — even if that second look is with a group of friends and several bottles of wine.

There are a lot of lesbian movies on sites like Tubi that are truly terrible — many of which don’t have any reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. But these five films with atrocious scores — less than 20% — aren’t as bad as their numbers indicate. Some aren’t bad at all.


5. Breaking the Girls (2012) – 10%

Madeline Zima lies down in a silk robe falling off her shoulders.

While we’re talking about Jamie Babbit, let’s start with her 2012 erotic thriller. It’s not But I’m a Cheerleader, it’s not A League of Their Own (2022), it’s not even Itty Bitty Titty Committee (also underrated), but Breaking the Girls is still a sexy, fun time! If you’re a fan of movies like Wild Things, you should give this a shot. At the very least, you’ll fall in love with Madeline Zima.

4. Nina’s Heavenly Delights (2006) – 16%

Shelley Conn and Laura Fraser kiss

I have never been able to figure out which light and airy rom-coms are celebrated and which are maligned. Like yeah this movie is cheesy, but what’s so bad about that?? It’s well-made and the leads have chemistry and there are close-ups of delicious food. Hating on this movie is like reading a romance novel and expecting it to be Mrs. Dalloway. Pratibha Parmar hasn’t made a narrative film since this and that makes me mad!

3. The Rich Man’s Wife (1996) – 13%

Halle Berry lies on a white couch in distress.

To include this film is to lightly spoil its wonderful final minutes, but since no one seems to be watching it, I’m taking that risk. Yes, the final twist is that Halle Berry’s character is a lesbian. (I’ll say nothing more about the context.) I think this movie is a lot of fun when taken as a sort of serious parody of yuppie thrillers. It feels like director Amy Holden Jones is doing for that genre what she did in Slumber Party Massacre for slashers. And while it’s not quite as good as that masterpiece, it’s still worth a watch!

2. Make a Wish (2002) – 0%

The dead body of a woman rests in a stream.

Speaking of slashers, Autostraddle managing editor Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya and I discovered this fun romp while putting together our scariest movie moments list. Made two years before The L Word, this horror movie about a lesbian celebrating her birthday party with an all-exes-invited camping trip feels very tonally similar. It has some flaws, but the jokes are funny and the kills are great. Fans of Bodies Bodies Bodies, check out one of its foremothers.

1. I Can’t Think Straight (2008) – 18%

Sheetal Sheth kisses Lisa Ray's shoulder in bed.

Shamim Sarif’s story about a Palestinian woman and an Indian woman falling in love in London is another rom-com that was written off for following its genre’s beats. But I find it baffling to scorn a romance for being… romantic. The leads are beyond beautiful and have so much chemistry and even if it hits the rom-com beats — and, specifically, the lesbian rom-com beats — it hits them so well!

And if sex and big feelings and good jokes aren’t enough for you, the film should also be celebrated for its cultural specificity. How many rom-coms feature multiple scenes of Palestinian families debating their feelings about Israel’s occupation of Palestine? The Palestinian main character may not be as radical as her mother, but the film still gives voice to the ongoing violence enacted by Israel. And, hey, I’m choosing to take the romantic lead’s pivot from her centrist fiancé to her more anti-Israel lesbian lover as its own statement.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 538 articles for us.

9 Comments

  1. I Can’t Think Straight is great, I can’t believe it’s got such a low rating! I also love Nina’s Heavenly Delights, although I won’t defend it. It’s not a great movie but it does have a proper Bollywood dance ending and delicious curry.

  2. I also can’t believe “I Can’t Think Straight” is on this list. It gave the world so many iconic ideas, like the idea of marriage insurance paying for itself, and lines. “But my best friend is Lebanese”.

    Also I find it much more fun than “The World Unseen” (which is rated a whopping 30% on Rotten Tomatoes)

  3. Yeah, “I Can’t Think Straight” is one of my favorites. But someone mentioned “The World Unseen” and I’d a.) forgotten about that one and b.) thought it was the one about the preacher’s wife who’s a secret lesbian and they make a documentary about it. Like a reverse gay conversion therapy movie or something? Elena, Undone is apparently the title and I’m honestly surprised that it’s not able to be on this list because it has a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes and not because of the cringe factor.

  4. I, too, find myself stunned that “I Can’t Think Straight” is on this list. Is it the best movie going? Well, no, but I would have thought it had a better RT rating than 18%. I haven’t seen any of the others on this list. I may have to now.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!