Pride Month: All the best multi-national boy love stories to watch
It’s no surprise that LGBT cinema in the U.S. is fairly limited. So it can be a challenge to find good films that portray protagonists who are diverse sexually and culturally. For pride month, let’s take a look at some of the best indies that focus on young male protagonists and their complex relationships and coming of age stories.
The Way He Looks (2014)
The Way He Looks is a Brazilian indie from 2014. This romantic drama stars Ghilherme Lobo as a blind high school student who becomes romantically interested in a new student, Gabriel. The Way He Looks is an independent film that appeared in the 64th Berlin International Film Festival. 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Bad Education (2004)
Bad Education is a Spanish drama about two young men who are friends and lovers who’ve reunited since childhood. The lovers get mixed up in a murder mystery as the film explores themes of child abuse by priests and substance abuse. Bad Education appeared in the 57th Cannes Film Festival and has received mostly favorable reviews from critics.
The Curiosity of Chance (2006)
This comedy follows Chance Marquis (Tad Hilgenbrink), a flamboyant high school student who is openly gay and has to contend with a bully his first year at an international high school. Chance’s journey through high school consists of hijinks, new friends and romantic connections, and his introduction to a drag bar. The Curiosity of Chance appeared in film festivals across the U.S. and won Best Narrative Feature at The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival in 2007.
Happy Together (1997)
Happy Together is a drama from Hong Kong depicting a tumultuous relationship between two young men, Lai and Ho. The couple visit Buenos Aires in the hope of rekindling their romance, but they go through numerous breakups and reconciliations until Lai accepts that the dysfunctional relationship can’t be repaired. The film received mostly favorable reviews in Hong Kong, but was subject to censorship due to the sex scene the film opens with. It was distributed by Kino International and appeared in the Cannes Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Loosely based on Henry IV, My Own Private Idaho follows Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves), the rebellious son of a mayor, and Mike Waters (River Phoenix), a gay hustler suffering from narcolepsy. The young men travel to Oregon, Idaho, and Italy to find Mike’s estranged mother, while the young man deals with his unrequited love for Scott. The film is noted for its avant-garde style and taboo subject matter for 1991.
A Moment in the Reeds (2017)
This Finnish drama stars Janne Puustinen as Leevi, a university student in Paris who travels back to Finland to help his father renovate the family lake house. Leevi’s father also hires Tareq, a Syrian asylum seeker, to assist with the renovations. While his father travels for work, Leevi and Tareq bond and explore a romantic relationship.
Different From the Others (1919)
This German silent film starring Conrad Veidt stands out as the most unexpected film on the list. Highly controversial for its time, Different From the Others sent a pro-gay message as it portrayed a love story between a music teacher and his young student. The film was banned and there were attempts by the Nazis to destroy it during the 1930s. It survives mostly intact to this day and can be viewed on YouTube for free.
Given the controversies surrounding LGBT narratives in our country (as we’ve often seen with films like Brokeback Mountain or even Beauty and the Beast) it can seem as if LGBT stories go entirely unheard or seen. But if we dig deeper, beyond the mainstream, we can find a well of stories from across cultures and decades.