Queer Crime Films

8 min read

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Crime films are usually not the kind of films you watch to feel good. Queer crime films are no different, although when adding a queer element, the crime film generally takes an even darker turn as elements of homophobia/transphobia, cliche prison stereotypes, and included. They unfortunately are also often based on true stories; actual crimes that have been committed and are being brought to life on screen to either better explain or to perhaps clear up the truth.

The key elements of the crime film genre are both rather obvious, yet also still subjective. But at the crux, the characters are either aiding, abetting, or planning criminal activity. However it’s interesting to note that it can be either the protagonist or the antagonist who are the actual criminals. It’s also worth noting that just because a crime occurs within a film’s plot, that doesn’t mean the film should be classified as within the crime genre. The genre also tends to go alongside other genres such as mystery, thriller, or drama.

So how does this actually apply to queer crime films? Well, I’ve chosen five excellent films that cover a broad spectrum of the genre. Three of these films are based on true crimes, while the remaining two are film adaptations of other works. Most are what you’d expect from a crime film: dark, bit of action, murder/death, etc. However, one is actually also a comedy! I will confess that I have steered clear of some iconic LGBTQ crimes: both their films and or the crimes themselves. (I specifically did not include any of the films regarding Matthew Shepard’s murder, such as The Laramie Project, because that’s an entire post itself!)

So which queer crime films did I pick? Well, read on to find out! And don’t forget to let me know what you think about this month’s selections!

[Note: Not all of these films have full reviews yet – but they’re added to the quickly growing list of films I plan to tackle soon!]

5 Queer Crime Films

This true story, which takes place in Fort Campbell, KY, tells the heart-wrenching story of the life and tragic death of soldier Barry Winchell (Troy Garity). His love for Calpernia Addams (Lee Pace), a transgender nightclub performer, was misunderstood by his fellow soldiers and eventually led to his murder.

Of all the films on this list, “Soldier’s Girl” is my favourite queer crime film. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy film to watch more than one or twice due to the harsh subject matter: the actual murder of Barry Winchell at the hands of his fellow soldiers. Brilliant editing doesn’t help ease this difficulty, although it is superbly done in a way that balances the ups and downs of the story as it unfolds. Calpernia’s performances are equally enthralling yet also heighten the dramatic irony as she’s performing in a competition the same time the gut-wrenching murder occurs. Lee Pace is absolutely phenomenal as Calpernia in every sense (his first film role!) and balances perfectly with Troy Garity’s portrayal of Barry. Again, I must warn you that this is a very difficult film to watch – but if you’re game, “Soldier’s Girl” is utterly worth watching!

Watch “Soldier’s Girl” on Amazon, Prime Video, and Paramount+.

A dying prisoner’s last confession serves as the cover for a plot to take Bishop Bilodeau (Marcel Sabourin) hostage. Mastermind Simon (Aubert Pallascio) has planned a special performance for the cleric: a reenactment of the days when they were schoolboy friends and when they were both in love with the same handsome boy.

“Lilies” has been on my radar for quite some time, but actually had a tough time finding a decent copy to finally watch this queer crime film. But I’m extremely glad that I did – it’s incredibly captivating; you simply have to keep watching all the way until the very end. Interestingly, the film is an adaptation of a successful Canadian play of the same name by queer playwright Michel Marc Bouchard. The entire film is told by an all male cast, primarily due to the fact that it takes place in a men’s prison. At times the play within a play unfolds within the present day in the prison with select props to help create the scenes. However in the actual flashback scenes, to better retell the truth of their history, the female characters continue to be played by men. As the film unfolds, the line between flashbacks and reality blur in a very artistic way that is simply stunning! If you’re after a dramatic queer crime film that will capture your full attention, then go watch “Lilies”!

Watch “Lilies” on Prime Video.

When freshman cadet David Hand (Patrick Cassidy) is found dead in a river, the evidence shows he’d had sex with an upperclassman before he was deliberately drowned. Intent on avoiding a scandal, Academy commandant General Charles Hedges (Hal Holbrook) suppresses the truth and declares it an accident. But when sergeant cadet Ry Slaight (Alec Baldwin) learns of the cover-up and threatens exposure, he’s forced to find the killer before Hedges can falsify charges and have him expelled.

Of all the queer crime films in this month’s post, “Dress Grey” is perhaps my least favourite. Not because I didn’t enjoy the film. The story itself is actually is quite captivating – if only it weren’t so drawn out. Based on a novel, the writers opted to go with a two-part TV miniseries. While this was a wise choice to let the story unfold without making cuts to the story, the slow pace was rather a hinderance to my enjoyment. I also must confess that it was very difficult to keep all of the cadet and colonel’s names straight, which did not help either. But the actual crime itself: the murder of another cadet which the school then tries to bury, was intriguing enough to keep watching. And what an ending! If you’re a fan of Alec Baldwin or military crime mysteries, then I’d suggest watching “Dress Grey”. But if not, there are other films on this list to watch instead!

Watch “Dress Grey” on Amazon.

Set in Argentina in 1965, the story follows the tumultuous relationship between two men, Nene (Leonardo Sbaraglia) & Angel (Eduardo Noriega), who became lovers. Along with their accomplice, Cuervo (Pablo Echarri), also become ruthless bank robbers in a notoriously famous footnote in the annals of crime history. After a large-scale hold-up that turns bloody, the two men must flee. It is not long before the police are surrounding the building they are in and they must confront their demons to survive.

“Burnt Money” is most certainly a queer crime film! Heck, it’s actually one of Argentina’s notorious bank robberies. However, because it’s a foreign film, I doubt that many of you even know of its existence. The film itself is quite different from most thriller storylines we know today. The pace itself is quite slow, initially dragged out with a long exposition. However things start moving quickly and before long we’re drawn into the story, unable to take a break as the seemingly inevitable comes faster and faster. Yet there is an artistic style to the film that makes the film worth watching. If you don’t mind subtitles, “Burnt Money” is a worthy addition to your “To Watch” list.

Watch “Burnt Money” on Amazon or Prime Video.

Steve Russell (Jim Carrey) is a small-town cop. Bored with his bland lifestyle, Russell turns to fraud as a means of shaking things up. Before long, Russell’s criminal antics have landed him behind bars, where he encounters the charismatic Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). Smitten, Russell devotes his entire life to being with Morris regardless of the consequences.

Frankly, I’m uncertain why “I Love You, Phillip Morris” didn’t make a bigger stir when it was released. Not only are there some incredible A-List actors leading the film, it’s quite hysterical! The situations and various escapes that Phillip Morris got himself into/out of seem like they’re utterly fictional and absurd – but yet it’s based on a true story! Although the writers have confessed that some events were changed around in the overall timeline. Jim Carrey is giving some of his best acting in this queer crime film, that’s almost more a queer comedy. Heck, even the cinematic elements themselves are quite well done. Everything about the film screams success. And yet it’s a film that most don’t even know about. So if you have not yet seen this queer crime film, I highly suggest you go find yourself a copy today!

Watch “I Love You, Phillip Morris” on Amazon or Prime Video.

So what did you think – do you agree with these five Queer Crime Films? Have you seen all of them yet? If so, let me know which one was your favourite. And if you haven’t watched them all yet, I highly encourage you to add these Queer Crime Films to your watch list ASAP!