Lesbian Netflix Recommendations: Elena Undone

One of my favorite activities to do on any given night is scan Netflix for any sort of film or tv show that features a lesbian storyline.  Now you might be saying, “Meghann, there are entire sites devoted to this like Afterellen and OneMoreLesbian – why don’t you just look there?”  Well, my friends – unfortunately there isn’t an easily searchable database for what I’m looking for.  Most of the time, I just have to rely on my instincts, Netflix’s recommendations, and some browsing of other internet sites.

So, one of my new blog topics is going to be Netflix: Instant Watch Recommendations.  Under the Gay and Lesbian tab, there are only a select few movies that are ever on there.  I’m not sure why this is.  There are plenty of other movies featuring lesbian/bi characters that don’t make it on the list.  So, I get to do the guesswork for you.  That means we’re gonna sift through the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.  So for today, let’s start with the good!

Elena Undone

Year: 2010
Runtime: 111 minutes
My Totally Official Rating: 5 out of 5

Netflix description: When openly gay writer Peyton (Traci Dinwiddie) and love-starved pastor’s wife Elena (Necar Zadegan) meet, they immediately form a strong bond. But the warmth of friendship soon erupts into a sizzling affair, forcing both women to confront their unexpected yet intense feelings. By turns sensual, smart and funny, writer-director Nicole Conn’s semi autobiographical tale explores the contemporary landscape of connection and commitment.

Does it follow any stereotypical lesbian tropes or storylines?

The only one that perhaps Elena Undone falls under is the “coming out” storyline.  The film is almost entirely focused around a married woman finding out who she is.  Despite the focus on coming out, the movie actually handles the story really well.  It not only shows the exciting and terrifying realization of her sexuality, but the realistic impacts it has on her lover, her family, and herself.  It doesn’t narrow its focus only on Elena’s experience but shows empathy for all other characters caught up in her journey.

How does it stand out from the rest?

  • The movie includes more than one bi/lesbian character.  For example, Payton’s friend is probably the antithesis of who Payton is (in terms of relationships).  It’s refreshing to see a movie portray two lesbians with two completely different personalities.  Sometimes I feel like lesbians are just bunched into one hipster group sitting in each others’ laps eating pizza.  Despite any sort of honesty in that image, it’s not all there is to our community.
  • The romance between Payton and Elena is center stage – it’s the main story.  And in line with that, the two women are actually physical with each other.  There are multiple scenes where the two women get to be intimate and show that lesbians are actually normal, sexual creatures.  Further, the scenes between the women are totally honest and tastefully done.  They are important to the storyline because sex and intimacy are an enormous step toward a deeper relationship and in some ways, one’s sexuality.  And on a less serious note, this movie holds the record for the world’ longest kiss in cinema history.  Translation: 3 minutes and 24 seconds of a total make out session.  Come on, lesbians need their gratuitous sexy scenes too.
  • The two lesbians in the movie are totally normal.  And by normal I mean they aren’t crazy caricatures of lesbians.  While there aren’t any butch ladies in this film, the femme ones are not hyper sexualized.  In fact, I really related to Payton in this film.  Finally, a lesbian that looks and acts kind of like I do.  Well, except for some of her clothes.  I mean, look at those jeans.  Those have got to be from 1994.
  • And ultimately, the ending of this movie isn’t shitty.  So many times I feel like this is a huge factor in movies featuring lesbian/bi characters.  They either die, one of them falls in love with a dude, or they completely eff up each other’s lives.  Even the best lesbian movies sometimes end in tragedy.  Lesbian movies don’t need happy endings but if they aren’t going to get one, it needs to be relevant to the storyline.  I won’t give away the ending, but the ending remains true to the story that’s being told.  In other words, it won’t piss you off.

Should you watch it?

Totally.  That’s really all there is to say.  As with any romantic story there are totally some cheesy moments but otherwise, you won’t find any disclaimers here.  Below is the trailer!



Filed under Hieratic

9 responses to “Lesbian Netflix Recommendations: Elena Undone

  1. ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE!!! This is awesome! I can’t wait for more!!!! ♥

  2. I just recently got Netflix, and this movie is one of the first I watched (right now I’m on the middle of the Battlestar Galactica remake, but that’s another subject).

    I don’t know how it took me this long to check “Elena Undone” out, but I loved this movie! It’s well acted (I particularly loved how Elena played the ‘well meaning but clumsy” gay ally when she discovers that Peyton’s gay… stammering on about how she voted on Prop 8, etc), well written (Elena’s son is particularly tortured), and very smart.

    Netflix has an extensive lesbian section, actually… if you put “lesbian” into the search field, not only will it bring up the movie “Lesbian Nation” (which is, unfortunately, not available for streaming), but it asks “Looking for the genre: Lesbian Movies?” and provides a link (here it is: http://movies.netflix.com/WiAltGenre?agid=72013 ). Yeah, it’s hidden, but it’s there.

    Of course, it’s not perfect… one of my favourite films with lesbians that Netflix has streaming, “The Four Faced Liar”, isn’t included on the list (though it IS in the “Gay and Lesbian” genre). It DOES have “Show me Love” (regular title: Fucking amal), which I absolutely LOVED!

    I’m looking forward to this series… there are quite a few films on the list that I’m curious about, but haven’t seen. You should also put versions of these reviews on the Netflix site… far too many reviews of LGBTQ films have a “this movie sucks because it has gay people in it” meme, and we need to counter it.

    • Ira

      Hi Meggs, yeah I’ve seen this film actually even before I discovered our beloved Crisabel of ‘TdL’ (would you believe it?) & even before that beautiful Swedish film called ‘Kyss Mig’ 2011 (or it’s got another title ‘With every heartbeat’) I liked this one even one more than ‘Elena Undone’ tbh…

      ‘Elena Undone’ is a really decent film & I loved it but ‘coz you reminded me about it- I’ll watch it again along with ‘Kyss mig’ of course… 😉

      Thank you Meghann & ttyl 🙂

      • Meghann

        THank you! And you know, I haven’t seen ‘Kyss Mig’ yet. I need to check that out! I’ve heard so many good things (and obviously watched some youtube clips). I should probably stop being lazy and watch the whole thing. haha

    • Meghann

      Hi! And word. I need to actually get on netflix and include stuff.

      A big part of why I am starting this is to not only track the good and the bad stuff I watch, but also to help guide other folks. Like you said, some of the stuff is listed under the ‘lesbian’ tag but some isn’t. I had exhausted the movies under that tag and was doing some scouting on my own and have found other stuff. Especially if they are movies that just feature gay characters…they’re sometimes not listed. So I’m hoping to do some of the detective work for folks. 🙂

      How are you liking Battlestar?! It’s awesome! So happy to hear from you Taliesin, was just mentioning that we missed ya!

  3. Well, i was hesistant whether or not i was going to watch that one,because the storyline sounded a bit flimsy. But now i am going to go on your good tatste and watch him.

    And if i can i would like to take the opportunity to recommend once again my favorite comming out movie “Eloïse”, it is a spanish movie,and besides brilliantly acted,has some amazing chemistry between the lead actresses. The storyline about the doubts and the comming out is believable (only spoiler i will give,it is not a happy feelgood movie,so if you love happy endings,this might not be for you) But this one i bought on dvd and still watch very regurlary,and i almost know the dialogues out of my head


    • Meghann

      I do have to be honest. We are dealing with netflix instant watch here. A lot of the movies aren’t going to be my favorites. 😛 However, I do feel like Elena Undone was super cute. Plus that super long kiss is super hawt. It’s worth it. haha

      I still need to watch that movie Eloïse ps! Shame on me for not doing so yet. It comes with your highest recommedation!

  4. Belky Ricardo

    Elena Undone is the hottest, sensual, erotic, romantic and beautifuly done lez movie that I have ever seen.

  5. trish

    Lip Service Is a Current British lesbian Drama TV series available on streaming Netflix, but is not listed in the gay and lesbian genre. They have the complete first 2 seasons. This show really shocked me because the story line is amazing, dramatic and very unpredictable. Do ypo know of any others?

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