10 Valentine's Day Movies for Gay and Lesbian Couples
Romantic movies for gay couples to enjoy during Valentines Day or special dates.
1. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Jake Gyllenhaal is flawless as Jack Twist in arguably the movie’s most difficult role. But Heath Ledger’s heartbreaking portrayal of Ennis Del Mar, a walking cautionary tale of homophobia’s logical end result, is a revelation — a total acting transformation made all the more tragic by Ledger’s death earlier this year. But the indignities and injustices that Jack and Ennis faced did not end at Brokeback Mountain’s closing credits. Upon the film’s release, the movie’s makers and fans were subjected to a six-month orgy of tasteless jokes from clueless comedians and bile-filed commentary from right-wing pundits. All of this negativity culminated when the movie, long considered the Oscar front-runner, lost Best Picture to a fine but unremarkable movie called Crash, perhaps the most egregious upset in Oscar history and almost certainly the result of lingering homophobia in Hollywood’s old guard.
But that fusillade of ridicule and outrage is already fading into the gloom of a bigoted past while the movie’s artistry and quiet power shines brighter than ever. Let’s face it: this isn’t just the greatest gay movie of all time, it’s one of the greatest movies ever.
2. Beautiful Thing (1996)
This film was the first in a virtual tidal wave of movies and books in which the sensitive teen misfit with a best female friend falls for the jock who turns out to be gay. But hey, haven’t most of us been there, on one side or other of the misfit/jock divide? This movie, based on a stage play by Jonathan Harvey (who also wrote the film’s screenplay), was originally intended for television, but it was so successful that the producers decided to give it a theatrical release. And let’s not forget the inspired soundtrack of Mama Cass songs — an example of a perfect fit between music and movie subject matter. Make your own kind of music, indeed.
3. The World Unseen
In 1950's South Africa, apartheid is just beginning.
Free-spirited Amina has broken all the rules of her own conventional Indian community in South Africa by running a cafe, a safe haven of laughter, music and home-cooked food; a "grey area" for those who fall outside the strict "black and white" rules of the apartheid-led government.
Cafe regulars include Amina's feisty waitress Doris, her gentle "Coloured" business partner Jacob and the sparky White local postmistress Madeleine. Long accustomed to the racial barriers of the country and its new laws, Madeleine and Jacob nevertheless share a budding attraction.
Miriam, on the other hand, is a doting mother to her children and a demure and subservient wife to her chauvinistic, frustrated husband, Omar. Quietly intelligent, Miriam has never assumed that she may have choices in life.
When Miriam meets Amina, their unexpected attraction throws them both off balance. Although Miriam manages to subdue her fascination with unconventional Amina, she finds herself slowly inspired to confront familiar and familial constraints. Shortly after their encounter Miriam moves to an isolated life in the country, but even here apartheid is placing its cruel footprint on society, and these injustices bring the two women together again, cementing the basis of their growing feelings.
Meanwhile Jacob decides to pursue a love affair of his own and he and Madeleine begin a tentative, touching relationship. But the best intentions of both are overcome by practical challenges and indignities of simply spending time together.
Even the fearless Amina, faced with the strength of her feelings and with the reality of Miriam's situation, starts doubting herself. And Miriam finds herself making some courageous choices that will change her own life forever.
Using the stunning South African landscape and jazz tunes of the time, The World Unseenexplores a system that divides white from black and women from men, but one that might just allow an unexpected love to survive.
4. I Can't Think Straight
Tala, a London-based Palestinian, is preparing for her elaborate Middle Eastern wedding when she meets Leyla, a young British Indian woman who is dating her best friend.
Spirited Christian Tala and shy Muslim Leyla could not be more different from each other, but the attraction is immediate and goes deeper than friendship. But Tala is not ready to accept the implications of the choice her heart has made for her and escapes back to Jordan, while Leyla tries to move on with her new-found life, to the shock of her tradition-loving parents.
As Tala's wedding day approaches, simmering tensions come to boiling point and the pressure mounts for Tala to be true to herself.
Moving between the vast enclaves of Middle Eastern high society and the stunning backdrop of London's West End, I Can't Think Straight explores the clashes between East and West, love and marriage, conventions and individuality, creating a humorous and tender story of unexpected love and unusual freedoms.
5. Long Time Campanion (1990)
By the late 1980s, Hollywood, like the American political establishment, had still barely acknowledged the tragedy of AIDS. So playwright Craig Lucas and his directing partner the late Norman René took matters into their own hands (with help from PBS’ American Playhouse), moving heaven and earth to cast and finance this movie chronicling the impact of AIDS on a group of gay New York men throughout the 80s.
If the film was going to have any impact at all, it had a very fine needle to thread — telling a story that would be accessible to a broad audience about a topic that was still extremely controversial. But all doubts were immediately erased by this tender, sensitive story that finally put a human face on AIDS. Bruce Davison’s incredible performance as a man caring for his dying partner was Oscar-nominated. And the film’s ending on the beach, as three surviving characters imagine a world where AIDS has ended and all the main characters have been brought back to life, is still one of the most heart-rending in all of filmdom.
6. Just a Question of Love (2000)
This thoughtful 2000 family drama first aired on French TV. In it, Laurent is gay, but he doesn’t dare tell his parents; after all, he loves them deeply, and when his cousin came out only the year before, they completely rejected him. What difference does coming out make anyway? Laurent’s not in love with anyone, and he’s got his female friend Carole who acts as his cover. But then Laurent meets hunky Cedric, who comes from a family where everyone thinks it’s healthy to be honest and open. Suddenly everyone wants Laurent to come out, and he’s not sure he can handle the pressure. What is more important — duty to one’s parents or love for one’s partner? The answer might be complicated, but it’s ultimately still just a question of love.
7. Despite the Falling Snow
A powerful, epic love story,Despite the Falling Snow moves effortlessly across eras and continents, between present day Boston and 1950’s Moscow, to unfold an enthralling drama of love, treachery and redemption.
After an early career amongst the political elite of Cold War Russia, Alexander Ivanov has lived in America for forty years and has managed to bury the tragic memories surrounding his charismatic late wife, Katya – or so he believes.
For into his life come two women - one who will start to open up the heart he has protected for so long; another who is determined to uncover the truth about what really happened to Katya all those years ago. The story’s journey back to post Stalinist Moscow takes us into a breathtaking world of true love lost, and of friendships betrayed.
The movie, now in development, is based on Shamim Sarif’s highly acclaimed second novel and has been described as "a story which is, literally, breathtaking." (The Good Book Guide)
8. The House of Tomorrow
A contemporary and lively documentary, The House of Tomorrow chooses to focus on the future and to encourage the idea that people can have a hand in their own destinies, whatever the odds.
Many movies about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict are understandably focused on the wrongdoing. The House of Tomorrow looks for a new approach inspired by the vision of extraordinary women who are changing their own local worlds a step at a time - not by overlooking the conflict but by seeing what people can do despite it.
9. Trick (1999)
How hard can it be to find a place to have sex? For hapless Gabriel and his gorgeous one-night stand Mark, it’s pretty hard. But this movie isn’t really about having sex; the real “trick” is to somehow find love. Is Trick the best gay romantic comedy ever made?
AfterElton.com readers and staff members think so. There’s so much to praise about this movie, whether it’s Tori Spelling’s utterly fearless performance as a clueless, no-talent wannabe, Steve Hayes delightful turn as the wonderful and wise Perry, or Coco Peru’s delightfully surreal cameo in the men’s restroom. But ultimately, the night belongs to that freshest of all fresh faces, Christian Campbell as the aptly named Gabriel, and smoldering John Paul Pitoc as Mark. The evening may not end in sex, but when Gabriel emerges into the sunlight of a new morning, he finally figures out the missing lyric to his song and the whole city seems to sing. We do too.
10. Shelter (2007)
There are “sleeper” films, and then there is Shelter. This small indie film received a very limited theatrical release in the spring of 2007 with a television debut on the subscription-only here! network only a month later. And suddenly, it was all anyone could talk about. Plenty of folks deemed it “the gay surfer movie,” but it’s ultimately as much about surfing as Brokeback Mountain is about animal husbandry. Instead, Shelter is a riveting family drama and a story of first gay love set in a working class world. StarringBilly’s Hollywood Screen Kiss’s Brad Rowe in a career-reviving performance and newcomer Trevor Wright, there are no gay bars in Shelter, no drugs, no drag queens, no circuit anthems, no gay-bashings, no AIDS scares, and no screaming parents to speak of. And we gay folks loved it anyway. Or maybe, because it was so fresh and different, that’s why we loved it.