Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Cupid is getting his bow and arrows ready. Some of us hope to be struck while others may be doing everything we can to dodge his arsenal, but there is no doubt that love will be in the air for the next few weeks.
Lots of people turn to romantic movies this time of year for both encouragement and solace, which got us thinking about those LGBTQ-themed films that can be considered the most romantic. I have my personal preferences but I also enlisted the help of nearly thirty gay and lesbian Facebook friends to identify their favorites.
|Sunday Bloody Sunday|
Things really started to improve with 1987’s sympathetic Maurice. This gorgeous Merchant-Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster’s autobiographical novel, which Forster refused to allow to be published while he was living, focuses on the repressed feelings shared between two young, upper-class British men (James Wilby and Hugh Grant). While their relationship doesn’t endure, the title character is more successful with a dark and handsome groundskeeper (memorably played by Rupert Graves).
Two recent, admirably unapologetic additions to the lesbian love canon are Blue is the Warmest Color, the acclaimed and erotic 2013 film about a young French woman’s sexual awakening, and 2015’s award-winning Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as women having a secret affair in the closeted 1950’s.
|The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love|
|A Single Man|
As if being homosexual, bisexual or trans wasn’t considered unorthodox enough, a few recent movie gems feature unexpected romances between unusual pairings. From Beginning to End is a 2009 Brazilian film about an Olympics-bound swimmer in love with another man. The catch? The two are half-brothers who were raised together from a young age. So controversial it was never released theatrically in the US, it is worth seeking out on home video or streaming. And then there’s Plan B from Argentina, in which two heterosexual men bond as friends over one’s messy breakup with his girlfriend (whom the other man is now dating) but ultimately become lovers. I found this film refreshing in its disdain for sexual labels and very touching in the end.
The Circle (2014) is an even more factual, inspiring love story. Director Stefan Haupt employs a combination of documentary footage and dramatic recreations to relate the decades-spanning romance between Ernst Ostertag and Robi Rapp. They met as young men in the 1950’s and fought right-wing oppression in their native Switzerland. Both were still alive and together at the time of the film’s production.
Trick, Jeffrey, Fried Green Tomatoes, Yossi & Jagger (I would add its 2012 sequel, simply titled Yossi, too), The Wedding Banquet, Carrington and Big Eden wrap up the remainder of my Facebook friends’ nominees for most romantic LGBTQ films of all time, and I agree with most of these.
Wherever you find inspiration, we wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day!
By Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.