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Top 5 polyamory movies for your next movie night

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Oct 03, 2023

Top 5 polyamory movies for your next movie night

So you had a fire date last weekend with your new polyamorous crush that you met on HER, and now it’s your turn to plan the next one. I have two words for you: movie night. 

If you’ve recently delved into the wonderful world of non-monogamy, you might be wondering: are there any movies about polyamory? 

Sure, we’ve all seen movies that feature aspects of relationships outside of monogamy. It’s common to find love triangles and throuples in Hollywood storylines alongside swingers, multiple love interests, and an insane amount of affairs, cheating, and jealousy. Even The Twilight Saga: Eclipse plays around with polyamory-lite when Bella kisses Jacob, and Edward seems… sort of okay with it? 

But there is a big difference between kissing a werewolf within earshot of your vampire boyfriend and actually addressing polyamory as a real and viable way to be in relationships with others. 

Some movies might brush up against the idea of multiple love interests, but, in the end, monogamy always seems to win. 

So let me rephrase: are there any movies out there that are actually about polyamory?

A brief history of polyamory representation in film

For the non-monogamous babes and polyamorous hunnies out there, it can be hard to find positive polyamory representation in movies and TV. 

When shows or films do feature storylines that could technically count as polyamory, they often end in tragedy, violence, or worse, a happy and relieving return to monogamy so that a sense of normalcy may be restored for all. Because polyamory never works, right? Wrong!

 This lack of polyamorous representation is unsurprising due to the stigma of non-monogamous relationships in Western society. Unlearning some of these negative stereotypes and tropes can be challenging, especially if you are just beginning your polyamorous journey

The Hays Code’s impact on queer stories

Not only is non-monogamy still seen as taboo in the mainstream but it’s also been over fifty years since films were given the right to free speech after the Supreme Code overruled its 1915 decision and removed the legal backing of the Hays Code. 

For those who don’t know, the Hays Code was a set of industry guidelines for the self-censorship of content made in the United States from 1934 to 1968. 

The Hays Code prohibited films from anything that might “lower the moral standards of those who see it,” including sex perversions such as homosexuality, interracial relationships, and polyamorous relationships. 

Under these strict Hollywood guidelines, films about polyamorous relationships wouldn’t be shown on-screen.

Since the 1970s, mainstream media has attempted to portray interracial and LGBTQ+ partnerships more positively. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of non-monogamy. Positive representation of polyamory in movies and TV is still seriously lacking.

So, what movies have polyamory in them that aren’t totally awful? Where are all the polyamorous characters in movies who are portrayed with depth and nuance as they navigate the messy, beautiful journey that is ethical non-monogamy? 

We’ve created the best list of polyamory movies that sincerely attempt to grapple with non-monogamous relationships as a way of living. 

Although some of these films fall into various polyamorous tropes, we’ve done our best to compile a list of films that depict real, lived experiences of polyamorous relationships. Ranked worst to best, here is a list of 5 polyamorous movies worth watching. 

Polyamory best movies list

1. Shortbus (2006)

Paul Dawson and PJ DeBoy in ‘Shortbus.’ One of them looks straight at the camera while the other looks at the back of his head adoringly.

John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus is first on our list (and my favorite). This might be the queerest movie about polyamory ever made. 

Shortbus premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, where it shocked and delighted audiences with its hilarious and emotionally poignant depictions of real New Yorkers having real sex with multiple partners in sex salons. Mitchell also directed the cult classic Hedwig and The Angry Inch.

Shortbus was a movie ahead of its time, presenting a sexually liberal and erotic utopia in which polyamorous relationships are valued as a way to achieve personal growth and freedom. 

This message rings true with many viewers today, especially those of us who have taken steps to liberate our relationships and sex lives from the traditional trappings of monogamy. Shortbus is a champion of sex-positivity and works hard to normalize kink, BDSM, and polyamory—at least in the world of gay niche arthouse film. Grab your popcorn, get ready for some on-screen orgasms, and watch Shortbus now. 

A still from ‘Professor Martson and Wonder Woman’ with Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote. They are both leaning against a wall together, their shoulders touching.

Source: The Advocate

2. Professor Marston and Wonder Woman (2017)

This wouldn’t be a list of the best polyamory movies if it didn’t include Angela Robinson’s real-life love story Professor Marston and Wonder Woman. This film is undoubtedly one of the most positive mainstream depictions of polyamory. If you are looking for a refreshing film that normalizes triad relationships and shows what it might have looked like to be in a kinky, bisexual throuple in the 1940s, Robinson’s film is for you. 

When asked about the representation of polyamorous relationships on screen,

“Poly relationships or ‘kink’ on film have usually been portrayed as salacious or transgressive negatively, and I didn’t want to do that. Narratively, I wanted to make an accessible story that told the story of three people falling in love. I wanted the audience to root for them to be together”

Robinson, a lesbian director.
A black and white still of three polyamorous lovers running across a bridge from the 1962 French New Wave film ‘Jules et Jim.’

Source: Little White Lies

3. Jules et Jim (1962)

For the old souls and the classic film connoisseurs out there, François Truffaut’s French New Wave classic Jules et Jim is one of cinema’s best-loved depictions of a ménage-a-trois. 

While the film industry in the US was under the chokehold of the Hays Code, foreign films in the 1960s such as this were exploring the Bohemian dream of young, inseparable best friends Jules and Jim, who fall in love with the same woman, Catherine.

The love shared amongst these friends never divides them despite Catherine’s insistence that she can’t settle down with either of them for too long. This allowed the characters not to have to choose between “one or the other,” which is so often a device deployed in monogamy-centric cinema. While the ending is a tad morose, it’s done with a brilliant touch of shocking parody. 

This film stands out as a masterpiece of its time, depicting non-monogamy inclusively and seriously which many modern films still fail to do.

A scene from ‘Ma Belle, My Beauty,’ a queer polyamorous movie set in the South of France. The two women who star in the movie walk in the streets, making eye contact.

Source: Rotten Tomatoes 

4. Ma Belle, My Beauty (2021)

Here’s another one for my queer indie film lovers. If you’re looking for a queer, polyamorous movie that takes place in the sun-soaked countryside of South France, Ma Belle, My Beauty is for you. This Sundance Audience Award-winning film explores queer polyamory between two women looking to rekindle their former romance. 

This polyamory romance drama explores the three-way relationship between two recently married musicians, Fred and Bertie, and their ex-lover, Lane. Heartbreak, hot and fumbling sex scenes and parties abound when these three meet again against a beautiful backdrop of European wine country. 

Ma Belle, My Beauty manages to explore jealousy deftly without making it the demise of the characters or the main point of the film. You can tell that the sex scenes were very clearly made by a queer person, evidenced by strap-ons in backpacks. Equal parts passion and boozy vibes, this film is a fresh and authentic exploration of polyamory.

A still from ‘Lust, Life, Love’ is a movie about a bisexual polyamorist named Veronica, played by Stephanie Sellars. This scene is a play party with diverse people gathered around.

Source: ReelBob

5. Lust, Life, Love (2021)

Lust, Life, Love is the messy, queer polyamorous Sex in the City you’ve been waiting for. Independent filmmaker Stephanie Sellars stars in this feature-length film about a bisexual polyamorous woman who falls madly in love with a monogamous man in New York City. This film explores polyamory as an escape from the trappings of normativity as much as it interrogates why we seek to have multiple partners. 

If you’re in the business of watching movies for a happily ever after, look elsewhere. But this movie does a great job of realistically depicting the jealousy that can come alongside polyamorous relationships and how people work through it. 

Rather than falling into cinematic tropes of portraying triads or a couple opening up their relationship, Lust Life Love explores a poly enclave and deconstructs Hollywood’s narrative tendency of trying on polyamory as a tantalizing escape from monogamy. 

New movie releases about polyamory 

Now if these films aren’t enough to wet your polyamorous palette, make sure to check out some of the best new polyamory movies releases of this year—including Passages by Ira Sachs and Four Little Adults by Selma Vilhunen. Passages is a gorgeous, messy, polyamorous drama about the narcissistic queer fuckboy you can’t help but fall into bed with. 

Meanwhile, Four Little Adults is a refreshingly optimistic movie that destigmatizes polyamory by presenting it as a normal, humble, straightforward option for our love lives. Finally, a film that believes that polyamory can actually work. 

If these two films are a testament to the direction that polyamorous representation in movies and TV is going, then I have reason to believe that there is hope for the world. 

Now, the only question I have left is: who is going to make the polyamorous holiday movie we all so desperately need? I would pay good money to see that.

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Dusty Brandt Howard is a writer & a fighter. He is a trans masculine cultural narrator who builds worlds with words. You can follow his thirst traps on Instagram, his writing on Substack, or find him at your local queer bar in northeast LA.

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