For lovers who want to cuddle up and get romantic this Valentine’s Day, there are hundreds of watch options. While there are classic LGBT romances ranging from heartbreaking (“Brokeback Mountain”) to hopeful (“Desert Hearts”) to delightful (“Go Fish”), here are a dozen newish romantic films, now available on DVD or streaming services, to watch this week.
“He Loves Me,” out Feb. 12 on DVD, is a wistful, poetic and erotic drama that asks, “How easy can it be to love when you actually find love?” Two uninhibited guys (Hermes Pittakos and Sanuye Shoteka) go to a beach to be alone together. A narrator (Thanos Lekkas) voices the observations one lover has about their relationship — their arguments and intimacies, and his efforts to sabotage it. Meanwhile, images of the guys skinny-dipping, sunbathing nude or stopping mid-hike to have sex underscore their desires.
“Kept Boy” is a delicious and naughty romantic comedy about the title character, Dennis (Jon Paul Phillips), who fears his relationship with his sugar daddy, Farleigh (Thure Riefenstein), is ending. When the hunky Colombian Jasper (Greg Audino) gets professionally — and perhaps personally — involved with Farleigh, the jealous Dennis schemes to save his relationship. “Kept Boy” skewers superficial gay culture while it makes some shrewd points about the price of beauty, love and trust.
For a terrific double feature, watch it with “Boy Culture,” Q. Allan Brocka’s modern classic depicting the gay romance that unfolds between antisocial hustler X (Derek Magyar) and his sexy roommate Andrew (Darryl Stephens).
The affecting romantic drama “Loev,” on Netflix, has Sahil (the late, magnetic Dhruv Ganesh) deciding whom he loves. Annoyed with his boyfriend Alex (Siddharth Menon), Sahil meets up with his pal Jai (Shiv Pandit) for a weekend trip. Some very strong emotions surface and change everything.
“Loev” is an intimate and quietly powerful drama from India.
The compassionate American indie “Princess Cyd,” on Netflix, by out gay writer/director Stephen Cone, has the title character (Jessie Pinnock) unexpectedly falling in love with the gender-nonconforming Katie (Malic White). This lovely, unassuming film charms viewers as Cyd slowly acts on her attraction to the alluring Katie.
The erotic Canadian romance “Below Her Mouth,” on Netflix, 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.
Two films on Nexflix feature bisexual love triangles involving Jews and food. Out gay filmmaker Ofir Raul Graizer’s “The Cakemaker” has German baker Tomas (Tim Kalkhof) falling for his late lover Oren’s (Roy Miller) widow, Anat (Sarah Adler), when he contrives to work at her kosher cafe. The intimate relationship that develops between the two survivors is both meaningful and heartfelt.
In contrast, the romantic comedy “To Each Her Own” has Simone (Sarah Stern), a closeted lesbian, grappling with her sexuality and identity. When she finds herself attracted to Wali (Jean-Christophe Folly), a Senegalese chef, Simone’s girlfriend Claire (Julia Piaton) accuses her of being a closeted hetero. Comedy ensues as Simone tries to please both her lovers — neither of whom her Orthodox-Jewish parents know about. “To Each Her Own” uses broad humor and stereotypes to make its points about love, shame and acceptance.
“Boy Meets Girl” is a sweet, sensitive drama about sexual identity. Ricky (Michelle Hendley), a transgender teen, is grappling with her feelings for Francesca (Alexandra Turshen), who is engaged to David (Michael Galante). Ricky gets some support from her best friend Robby (Michael Welch), who also feels slightly jealous toward Ricky and her new friend. Writer/director Eric Schaeffer deftly addresses issues of shame, hate, judgment and gender as the characters define and redefine themselves.
“Romeos,” a film from Germany, is a tender drama about Lukas (cisgender actor Rick Okon), who is transitioning from female to male and 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 (Maximilian 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.
Two films about threesomes are also worth watching. “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women,” by out lesbian filmmaker Angela Robinson, is a stylish period film about the polyamorous relationship featuring Dr. William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). Robinson captures the sexual energy among the three lovers and emphasizes how society was not ready to accept such forward-thinking ideas about relationships and sexuality.
Likewise, gay Argentine filmmaker Marcelo Briem Stamm’s “Somos tr3s/We Are Thr3e,” now out on DVD, celebrates the threesome that develops among Ana (Flor Dragonetti), Nacho (Carlos Etchévers) and the bisexual Sebastián (Juan Manuel Martino), who is attracted to them both. How the characters navigate the challenges and pleasures of this polyamorous relationship forms the basis of this low-key film.
Lastly, for curmudgeons or the heartbroken who think “not every romance is a fairytale,” there is Asian auteur Scud’s glossy “Love Actually … Sucks!” Full of beautiful people behaving badly, this anti-romance opens with a groom sabotaged by his lover before stories of incest, infidelity and unrequited love unfold. Various jealous gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight characters lie, betray and seek revenge in naughty, compelling vignettes that illustrate the gulf between sex and love.
Happy Valentine’s Day — and happy viewing!