Culture / Film

Our favourite films that celebrate female friendship

films about female friendship

So many films are devoted to romantic love, but too often other kinds of love get pushed to the periphery. Familial love, friendship – these are just as worthy. And there really is nothing quite like the close bond that comes with female friendship. Whether that's the giggles, sleepovers and secret sharing of adolescence or the knowing looks and ride-or-die mentality that comes with a life spent in each other's company. Below, we're bringing you our favourite films about the magic of female friendship, from The First Wives Club to Skate Kitchen.


1. Rocks (2019)


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When her mother suddenly leaves 15-year-old Rocks and her little brother Emmanuel to fend for themselves, she tries to avoid going into foster care with the help of her close-knit friendship group and the small stash of cash her mother left in her wake. Set in east London with a cast of deeply charismatic newcomers selected from a series of workshops conducted by director Sarah Gavron, this is a truly original film about girlhood, with heart.


2. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Gurinder Chadha is an icon. More than twenty years since the director gave us Bend It Like Beckham, the film still holds true, in fact it really was before its time. We're suckers for the early noughties fashion – who could forget that iconic glow mesh club moment? – and it was thoughtful about queerness, what it means to be a migrant, and was unafraid to weave a strong message around feminism though it. Where Keira Knightley's acting falls short, Parminder Nagra comes through. And it also features our favourite movie father, the one, the only, Anupam Kher.


3. Lady Bird (2017)

There's something about the female characters in this film that tug at our heartstrings. First, there's Saoirse Ronan as Christine, a high school senior who is navigating the changes of young adulthood and a strained relationship with her mother, which feels so real and complex. Beanie Feldstein plays her bubbly best friend Julie Steffans, and it brings lots of joy to watch them snack of communion wafers and argue even, as they did when Christine ditches Julie to get in with the cool kids.


4. Beaches (1988)

If you fancy yourself a bit of a masochist, then this is the film for you. Prepare to sob uncontrollably at the ending – that's not a spoiler that's just a well known fact! Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey come together in a star-crossed-lovers kind of tale, only if the focus was on eternal friendship rather than romantic love. From two children that meet on a beach, the story comes full circle when tragedy rips through their lives.


5. Ginger & Rosa (2012)

Set within the climate of the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis, we're introduced to Ginger and Rosa, inseparable friends since birth. Warm vignettes of their closeness contrasts to their bleak surrounds. Ginger is bookish and cerebral while Rosa is charismatic, teaching the other how to kiss boys, smoke cigarettes and do as teenagers do. In the meantime, both girls mothers are weathering their own storms, and Ginger's pacifist father Roland appears a bohemian, free-spirited figure until it's this quality that drives a wedge between the two girls.


6. The First Wives Club (1996)

Always at the top of our list. When three college best friends learn about the tragic death of the fourth member of their friendship circle who ends her life after her husband left her for a younger woman, Annie, Elise and Brenda reunite, and realise that they are all being left for younger models too. In a plot to seek revenge, they become closer than ever. Come for Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, Diane Keaton, Maggie Smith and SJP. Stay for the trio's rendition of "You Don't Own Me".


7. Skate Kitchen (2018)


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We love skate films. What's more, we love skate films that include wom*n. Especially the groovers over at Skate Kitchen. Styled in Sandy Liang, Collina Strada, Simon Miller and a hell of a lot of Vans, the characters ride around the streets of NYC getting in trouble, getting out of trouble, to bring us the perfect clash of culture, fashion, drama and most importantly, friendship.


8. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)


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What was a 90s film without a touch of crazy? Romy and Michele's High School Reunion is equally as fun as it was whacky. Unforgettable metallic party dresses, gaudy accessories, farfetched claims about post-its and those business-chic ensembles so reminiscent of 90s corporate. The film is everything we love meshed into one and threaded with the underlying message of staying true to yourself. Which is easier done with your best friend by your side.


9. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)


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The best female friendships come in fours. That is just fact. And it's especially true for these tween classic. Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively, America Ferrera, and Amber Tamblyn are bummed about being separated over the summer, and come across a pair of jeans that fit each girlfriend perfectly, vowing to share the pants evenly throughout the holidays to stay connected. Some prefer the second instalment, but my favourite is the first. Blake Lively at soccer camp has stuck with me.


10. Booksmart (2019)


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In the canon of American high school films, Olivia Wilde's Booksmart is easily one of the greatest. For starters, there is no clear line between the jocks, the nerds – all the clichéd student stereotypes. Rather, the good-looking stoner is accepted into MIT and the so-called "slut" is headed for Harvard. We love it. Then there's also the fact that it stars a supercharged Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, who gave us this beauty of a pick-up scene.


11. Mystic Pizza (1988)


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Set in the summer after they finish high school, Julia Roberts plays Daisy Araujo who, along with her sensible sister Kat and the feisty yet soft-hearted Jojo, work at Mystic Pizza slinging out pies. Coming from a working class Portuguese fishing village in Connecticut, the girls bond over their turbulent love lives and Daisy falls for a rich white boy across town.


12. Little Women (2019)

The classic of classics. In Greta Gerwig's 2019 reimagining of Little Women – starring Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, and Meryl Streep – the March sisters return in what is arguably their best version to date. As sisters do, they clash thunderously, although always coming back together in the name of family and in the sweetest of ways. Finally, we get some justice for Amy too.


13. Thelma & Louise (1991)

It's an age-old story, as timeless as Susan Sarandon. When mild mannered Thelma joins her wild waitress friend Louise on a short trip, things very quickly go south when they kill a man and end up on the run from the law. We know what you're thinking, but young shirtless Brad Pitt, sexy female solidarity and a classic American road trip is too good to refuse. Because what says female friendship like a literal ride or die?


14. Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging (2008)


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We owe so much to this film. For one, the pencil test, while sort of useless, was certainly memorable. The film (and the books if you're really keen) bring female friendship to the fore in a way that's fun, silly and sings with the closeness that comes with sleepovers, sharing secrets and gossiping about early crushes. Did I mention I love this film? Extra points for unearthing Aaron Taylor Johnson and it's A+ soundtrack.


15. Spice World (1997)

Say what you want about the Spice Girls, this movie is a masterpiece. It's high-octane, candy-coloured visuals is the sort of late 90s kick of nostalgia we're hungry for. If you've always been fond of Sporty, Posh, Scary, Ginger and Spice, this is the first (among the many) documentaries you should reach for. Plus, it's a great one to put on when you're watching with your best gal pals. Girl Power.


16. Steel Magnolias (1989)

Casting doesn't get much better than this. Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Sally Field together in the same room? I mean, come on! You've no doubt feasted your eyes on this one countless times, it's the sort of film no one remembers ever putting on, but somehow everyone has watched it. Intergenerational female friendship flourishes when a young beautician moves to a small town in Louisiana seeking out new friends, a group of women welcome into their tight-knit circle.


17. The Craft (1996)


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The Craft is quite clearly and very obviously one of the best teen movies to come out of the 90s. It follows a teen witch, played by Robin Tunney, who uproots to a new town and find that there are others like her at her new school. Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle are witches too and together they form a coven. Throw in some romance courtesy of dreamboat Skeet Ulrich and you have a recipe for a cult rewatchable heavy on the female friendship.

For more film recommendations, take this list of the greatest Australian films of all time or this one for the best film soundtracks to listen to immediately.

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