Lianna (1983)

R  |   |  Drama  |  18 January 1983 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,315 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 17 critic

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 »


[Upon finding her thirteen-year-old son's porno stash, right after finding that he was awake all night]
Lianna: My God, he's had an orgy.
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
See more »

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User Reviews

A Sayles masterpiece about the lesbian experience, far ahead of its time
24 October 2000 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

John Sayles' ability to get you acquainted with his characters shines again in this study of a wife and mother who is coming to terms with her sexuality. Unlike the tawdry stories that focus solely on the sexual aspect of lesbian relationships, Sayles explores and reveals the complexity of discovering homosexual orientation - what it means to Lianna as her sexuality emerges from repression and what it means to her and others that she chooses to live truthfully with it.

There are some very rare vignettes in this film that bely what it is like to discover the attractiveness of women for the first time. Sayles does such a masterful job at portraying this process of discovery - it is joyful, playful, and exciting. These scenes remind me of Truffaut's "The Man Who Loved Women" (also badly remade in the USA, starring Burt Reynolds), but they seem to have a more natural depth and feel. Sayles' movies are typically populated with real characters, not posing movie stars. This film is true much is at stake for Lianna, and you are drawn into the aspects and dimensions of her life, the complexities and facets of the human sexual nature and of life in general, and what it means to come to terms with being gay.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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