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Lianna (1983)

R  |   |  Drama  |  18 January 1983 (USA)
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A happily married woman comes to realize herself of being a repressed lesbian after she has an affair with a female college professor, and then tries to come to terms with her newfound lifestyle.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Linda Griffiths ...
Jane Hallaren ...
Jon DeVries ...
Jo Henderson ...
Jessica MacDonald ...
Theda (as Jessica Wight MacDonald)
Jesse Solomon ...
Betsy Julia Robinson ...
Nancy Mette ...
Maggie Renzi ...
Madelyn Coleman ...
Mrs. Hennessy
Robyn Reeves ...
Job Applicant
Lighting Assistant
Marta Renzi ...


Lianna and her husband Dick have been married for a few years but the marriage isn't a happy one, since Dick treats her with arrogance. One day Lianna falls in love - with Ruth, a teacher. The people who know them act different: her husband with feelings of sexual betrayal, her children with curiosity and Lianna's friends with ambivalence. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

18 January 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lianna, Um Amor Diferente  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$300,000 (estimated)


$1,500,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was filmed in 16mm and was later blown up to 35mm. This was common for independent films of the 1980s. The film was originally meant to be shot on 35mm with a budget of $800,000. Sayles could not raise the funds for this budget, and so they "cut corners" by shooting on 16mm. See more »


Lianna: [after seeing him misbehaving there with one of his students] How was the party?
Dick: Okay I guess. The usual. A lot of students like always at the Loomises', trying to score their brownie points.
Lianna: Um hmm.
Lianna: How many do you get for a fuck in the sandbox?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits credit only the production company and the crew members. The cast is not credited until the end credits. The title of the film, LIANNA, appears as the last title card after John Sayles is credited as writer, producer, director and editor. See more »


References Laverne & Shirley (1976) See more »


Women of the World
Written by Mason Daring
Performed by Jeanie French & Suzanne Boucher
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User Reviews

Ahead of its time
12 June 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Lianna (Rachel Griffiths) is unhappily married to a cheating husband (John De Vries) and has two children. She falls for a female teacher (Jane Hallaren) and realizes she's a lesbian. She starts an affair with her and realizes she can't stay with her husband...she must find her own identity as a lesbian.

It's hard to believe this was made in 1983. Definitely a ground breaker. I remember it played forever in a small art house cinema in Cambridge MA. I didn't see it back then but I'm glad I got the chance. BTW, it was beautifully restored in 2003 and that's the print I saw. John Sayles wrote and directed the film and, like all his films, it has incredible dialogue and a believable script. This is probably the first realistic film to show a woman coming to grips with her sexual orientation--and embracing it completely. It does show the hardships she goes through adjusting to a life on her own and the relationship problems--but that's very true to life. The trip to a lesbian bar was surprising in a film this old. The acting by the leads is superb--Griffiths is perfect and Hallaren matches her. De Vries is good also but he's stuck with a 1 dimensional villain role. The supporting roles are somewhat amateurish--but they don't lessen the film. In fact it makes it seem even more realistic! The sex scenes are explicit but tasteful.

It's hard to believe a man wrote and directed such a sensitive portrayal of a woman. My only complaint is that it's a bit overlong--but this still should be seen. A groundbreaking and very honest film. An 8 all the way.

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