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    Romantic LGBTQ Films to Put You in the Mood for Valentine’s Day

    By Gary M. Kramer–

    With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, there are a number of LGBTQ films that couples (or singles, or threesomes) can cuddle up and watch for a romantic evening at home. Here are some personal favorites.

    For a classic lesbian film, Donna Deitch’s landmark 1985 feature Desert Hearts is a must to watch or re-watch. Set in 1959 Reno, the film respectfully depicts the love that develops between Vivian (Helen Shaver), an English professor waiting out a divorce, and Cay (Patricia Charbonneau, in a remarkable debut), who works at a casino and lives on the ranch where Vivian is staying. Vivian is prim and proper and wants to “be free of who I’ve been,” while Cay is reckless; the sexy young woman is seen driving backward when she first meets Vivian. Their slow-burn attraction heats up when the women kiss in the rain, but their relationship soon has tongues wagging. And the film’s sensual love scene is why the film still melts hearts decades later.

    For something more erotic, the Canadian romance Below Her Mouth features sex scenes that are as hot as the two female protagonists. Dallas (Erika Linder) is a love ‘em and leave ‘em type, who catches sight of the fetching Jasmine (Natalie Krill), a fashion magazine editor who is engaged to Rile (Sebastian Pigott). The frisson between the beauty and the butch is palpable. Below Her Mouth may feature a flimsy script, but the film is best when the actresses are engaging their mouths on each other, not the dialogue. 

    In Tim Kirkman’s poignant, romantic drama Lazy Eye, Dean (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) is a Los Angeles-based graphic designer with the titular ocular problem. One day, out of the blue, he gets an email from Alex (Aaron Costa Ganis), his ex from 15 years ago. After some email exchanges, the pair arrange to meet in Dean’s Joshua Tree home for sex, true confessions, and a possible second chance at their relationship. The film, basically a two-hander, pivots on the dynamics between the attractive leads as they reveal secrets and lies, reflect on memories, and experience loneliness, honesty and maturation. But what will catch the eyes, and hearts, of viewers is Near-Verbrugghe’s sensitive performance—he makes Dean’s despair palpable—and Costa Ganis’ seductive turn as Alex.

    Another sexy, sweet—and bittersweet—film is the romantic drama About Us, which stars and was written and directed by out gay filmmaker Thiago Cazado. This Brazilian import depicts the intimate relationship between Diego (Cazado), a photographer/filmmaker, and Matheus (Rodrigo Bittes), an architecture student. The couple is very much in love until a situation arises that threatens their happiness. Cazado’s low-budget debut may seem slight at first, but it becomes quite emotional as the lovers grapple with their possible separation.

    Also from Brazil is the sweet and sunny romance The Way He Looks. Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) is a blind teenager, who develops feelings for Gabriel (Fabio Audi), a new kid at his school. When a class assignment forces Gabriel and Leo to work together, the guys quickly form an intimate bond, which causes Leo’s best friend Giovana (Tess Amorim) to become jealous. Scenes of the guys together shows how these two teenagers fall in love. Ribeiro’s warm approach to telling Leo’s story prompts viewers to want the boys to couple up. Of course, there are subplots that try to keep the guys apart, but in Ribeiro’s highly enjoyable film, they never feel forced.

    Another charmer featuring schoolboys is Handsome Devil, written and directed by out gay Irish filmmaker John Butler. Two boarding school roommates—the gay outsider Ned (Fionn O’Shea) and the closeted athlete, Conner (Nicholas Galitzine)—connect as friends, not lovers. Although there is more teenage angst than actual romance, Handsome Devil is a magical film that is sure to leave a smile in viewers’ hearts.

     

    Feeling polyamorous? Argentine writer/director Rodrigo Guerrero deftly explores the connections between three gay men in his sexy and revealing romance The Third One. Fede (Emiliano Dionisi) is a cute college student who flirts online with Franco (Nicolás Armengol). He meets Franco and his partner Hernán (Carlos Echevarría) for dinner in their apartment, and eventually—in a virtuoso sequence, shot in real time—the trio end up in bed together. The Third One is erotic and satisfying.

    A queer-inclusive film from a few years back that deserves a look is Romeos, from Germany. This tender drama is about Lukas (cisgender actor Rick Okon), who is transitioning from female to male and is fearful of making his gender identity known. Housed in a girls’ dormitory against his wishes, he leans on his lesbian best friend Ine (Liv Lisa Fries) for support. When Lukas meets the hunky lothario Fabio (Maximillian Befort), the guys are attracted to each other. The sexual tension builds as they tease and compete with each other. But will Fabio accept Lukas when he knows his truth? There is plenty of heartache for the film’s gay, lesbian and trans characters before a happy-for-now ending.

    © 2019 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer