love and disability in the movies: image of a pink background with text reading "love" - each letter in the text is a photo of various movies that are featured in the post

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This post is about love and disability in the movies – that is, love stories with disability intersections.

Love and Disability in the Movies

Hollywood loves disability (just not disabled actors).

It also loves love.

There are a lot of movies that have intersections of both love and disability; it’s just super rare to have movies with disabled actors playing disabled roles with intersections of love.

Here’s a smattering of some movies with love/disability intersections to get you going.

Crip Camp in Love

Ann Cupolo Freeman and Sam Freeman recount their love story. Jim LeBrecht (Co-Director of Crip Camp) speaks with them both about identity, acceptance and finding love as a person with a disability.

Autism in Love

A  documentary following 4 adults with Autism as they navigate romantic relationships

Monica and David

A beloved documentary within the Down syndrome community.

Monica and David follows the weeks before and after the marriage of a couple with Down syndrome.

Children of a Lesser God

One of the sexiest movies I know, holy cow.

Young Marlee Matlin (who is really Deaf), and William Hurt.

It’s about a Deaf woman and hearing man’s relationship, set in a Deaf school. The film below is on YouTube but costs $2.99 – you can get it in DVD from Netflix (not available via stream), or on Amazon, linked here.

Peanut Butter Falcon

I loved this movie so much (- my full review is linked here)

This isn’t where the disabled person falls in love, but there is love galore in this movie, so it’s a must-see!

Available on Amazon, YouTube (not free though).

The Station Agent

This was the first movie I saw with Peter Dinklage in it, and WOW!

Cool movie, all kinds of everything in it. You can watch it on YouTube, on Amazon,  and Netflix DVD (not streaming).\

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

A man develops locked-in syndrome, and finds love. I couldn’t find a  captioned trailer, but the YouTube rental movie should be – it costs $2.99. It’s also available through Amazon, linked here.

Yo, También


It’s one of my very favorite movies related to Down syndrome (- see my post on Sex and Down syndrome).

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it on YouTube for you. I’m pretty sure it’s on Netflix DVD (not streaming though, I checked) and it’s on Amazon, linked here.

Any Day Now

This  movie broke my heart and stayed in my mind for years.

Based on a true story, it’s about love, yes, and of rights, justice, of an impossible, wrenching world.

I really, really recommend it. You can rent it on YouTube, Amazon, and Netflix DVD has it (not streaming though).

The Theory of Everything

Famous movie that won tons of awards, because nothing is as inspirational or triggers the awards as a non-disabled actor playing a disabled role!

The love stuff in this movie is awesome. It doesn’t tell you though how he left her much later for a nurse, etc, but in this movie itself, the love is great.

The full movie is on YouTube for free, sans captions. It’s available to rent on YouTube (with captions), here. I think it’s on Netflix (both streaming and DVD) and it’s linked here for Amazon.

The Phantom of the Opera

My all-time favorite love story, disability-related or not.


You can find it in full on YouTube (but I think the captions are only in Spanish in the free version? better check on that!), and on DVD with Netflix; Amazon is linked here.

The Fault in Our Stars

I know this I’m supposed to love this, but I don’t.

It’s too treacly for me, and I’m too old for this kind of predictable love story.

But! It’ll be great for some of you – it was popular with mainstream for a reason!

It’s there (and captioned) for free on YouTube, but should also be available on Netflix DVD. Amazon is linked here.

The Way He Looks

This looks really cute.

It’s a Brazilian gay coming of age film with a blind teen. Available to rent on YouTube (here), watch on Amazon, linked here.

The Waterdance

Oooh, Eric Stoltz and Wesley Snipes!

More disability appropriation, sigh. But I do like them.

I haven’t seen it personally, but it’s the story of a man struggling to deal with his paralysis (with the intersecting love story).  The full movie is is on YouTube. It seems to be available on Netflix streaming and DVD, you watch on Amazon, linked here

Love and Other Drugs

I like Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhall, so this looks like a fun movie, even though, of course, it’s total disability appropriation.

A love story about a woman with Parkinson’s and a drug company representative.

Available on Netflix (DVD and streaming), a wonky-captioned YouTube version (linked above), non-wonky version available for rent on YouTube and also on Amazon.

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble


Early (pre-Grease) John Travolta!

This is the story of a boy born without an immune system and his reach for love with the girl next door.

Of course, all non-disabled playing disabled roles, but I still want to watch it, because, 1976 John Travolta!!

You can watch it on Netflix DVD, and on Amazon. The YouTube movie linked above is apparently the full movie but it’s only captioned in Spanish.

Keep the Change

This was recommended in the comments last year, and it does look cute, so I wanted to include it, especially because the majority of actors in it seem to have a disability. Available on Amazon, and Youtube.

50 First Dates

I went back and forth over whether or not I should include this….

On one hand, sure, it’s all over brain injury and love, but on the other hand… it’s SO WRONG ABOUT BRAIN INJURY!!

I don’t know if it’s a total disservice to those of us with brain injury to watch it, because you might come away thinking you really understand brain injury!

This movie is ALL WRONG about brain injury but it is cute. I do like Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler together, shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Available all over the place, because it’s not a recent movie.


I don’t have more information about this video (- the description on YouTube is all in Hebrew, which I don’t read, unfortunately).

Nevertheless, I loved this celebration of their union and love and wanted to include it in this postThat’s the short list for now. I’d love to hear your suggestions and what love and disability movies really floated your boat.

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  1. Hi Meriah,
    My wife and I just watched a film called Keep the Change. I believe the majority of the cast are disabled actors. And the central theme was decidedly love. It was excellent.
    Neither my wife nor I are disabled, so I don’t know that we’re the best judges of the authenticity of the relationship portrayed, or the difficulties. But it seemed fairly plausible and genuine to us. And there were definitely components of the characters that we all can relate to , disabled or not.
    Anyhow, if you haven’t seen it, give it a shot.
    Take care.

  2. Deborah Perez says:

    Nice movie selection???I was also thinking of Movie, Me Before You?

  3. Gwen Squire says:

    Hello Meriah,
    I have Spina Bifida. So being a person with a disability, I definitely tend to critique movies about people with disabilities.

    I would like to make a few suggestions for movies about people with disabilities:
    1. My Left Foot (staring Daniel Day Lewis) – based on a true story about a boy growing up with CP.
    2. Mask (staring Cher and Eric Stoltz) – About a boy with a facial deformity.
    3. The Man without A Face (staring Mel Gibson) – about a man with a scarred face.
    4. Where Hope Grows – about a boy with Down Syndrome.
    5. Bury My Heart With Tonawanda – about a boy, with Down Syndrome who, after being abused by his father, goes to live with an Indian tribe. This movie was written by my friend Adrian Esposito who has Autism.

  4. So it has been years since I’ve seen it abd cannot find it back, but there is a movie about two young adults with Down’s syndrome that want to have a relationship but the girl’s family is worried about her getting romantically involved. I thought the male lead had downs but the female role was played by someone that didn’t really have Downs. Maybe Joan Cusack?
    I remember crying my eyes out on this one-emotional love story for sure. I want to say the guy was tuba player at his university and very involved with the band program. Is this familiar to anyone? I’d love to know the name of that film.

  5. Theresa K Dieriex says:

    This year Easterseals Disability Film Challenge theme is romance, so there will probably be over 80 short films available on youtube, that will have people with disabilities in front of or behind the camera and it’s free. Filming begins in April 1, films will be available after that. Anyone can make a film check it out, at Easterseals disability film It’s a 5 day competition, write, film edit, submit. Like a 48 hour film competition but a bit longer. certain things like props have to be included which is given the first day. My daughter has done at least 6 of these.

    1. Thank you!! I really appreciate your telling me this! I can’t wait to check it out

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