Black Love on Film: 9 films to check out for romantic thrills this Valentine’s Day
Love is one of the most abstract but absolute sensations that exist. You can’t see or hear it, but there’s no doubt what it is when it hits you.
Some movies are able to effectively capture the unique yet universal feeling of falling – and staying – in love. From your typical boy-meets-girl and sparks storyline to the less common girl-lose-boy story and obsessing over how to get him back before it’s too late, some movies just have a particular way to transmit the indescribable.
Whether it’s a whirlwind summer romance with lasting ramifications, an idyllic vision of young adults slipping into a love their society will never accept, or a gritty snapshot of an upsetting evening in a relationship difficult, these films capture multiple angles of the many nuances that illustrate the experience of black love.
Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with your own love interest, enjoying the company of friends, or just going solo and loving yourself this time around, feel free to pour yourself a glass of wine and throw a take a look at one of these romantic and relatable portrayals of Black Love on film.
Accurately capturing the essence of block parties and late nights in the park during the hot Harlem summers, Premature is the story of 17-year-old Ayanna’s last summer in New York before heading off to college. Things go according to plan for the budding young poet until she meets Isaiah, a music producer who has just moved to town. A summer fling quickly becomes a life-changing romance that could affect their future both separately or together… [HULU]
Zadie is a stand-up comedian facing a rough patch, who plans to unwind with a weekend getaway to her parents’ upstate guesthouse… only to find that her mother took the liberty of inviting ex-boyfriend Bradford and new girlfriend Margo over for the fun. Since she still wants her ex, Zadie is busily busy being the worst third wheel possible, when her plans (and bad temper) are interrupted by a mysterious solo male guest who’s also dropping by for the weekend… [HULU]
Washington DC serves as the backdrop for this passionate and whirlwind love story challenged by ambition. Kofi Siriboe is Isaiah, an up-and-coming painter working hard to prove himself in the competitive art world. At a local art show, he instantly finds Stevie, an ambitious but conflicted law student who juggles her personal desires with her parents’ expectations. With romance never in any of their plans, life and career begin to pull them in opposite directions. Will they be able to keep the true love they found? [NETFLIX]
When their fathers vie for the County Assembly seats, Nairobi teenagers Kena and Ziki cross paths and become inexplicably attracted to each other. The girls live very different lives – Kena works in her father’s shop while waiting to start nursing school, Ziki spends her days inventing dance routines with her friends. Their interest turns into undeniable affection, but the girls must find ways to love each other despite the ever-watchful gaze of their disapproving Kenyan neighborhood. [SHOWTIME]
Malcolm and Marie
Perhaps a little too tense and divisive for a movie starring bae, this one is a portrait of a pivotal evening that will determine the fate of a relationship. John David Washington stars as Malcolm, a filmmaker on the verge of Hollywood and critically acclaimed recognition, and Zendaya as his girlfriend Marie, whose real-life story serves as the cornerstone of his career. After “forgetting” to thank her the night of her movie’s premiere and warm reception, the two find themselves locked in a no-holds-barred hours-long argument that goes back and forth between the awful and the affectionate as they fight with and for each other until the wee hours of the morning. Admittedly, this one isn’t the most romantic thing in the world…but long nights and rough conversations like these are sometimes the raw material of love. [NETFLIX]
Small Axe: Lover’s Rock
Another film about a pivotal evening in a relationship, lovers’ rock instead focuses on the flirtatious start of something fresh and new, moving to the beat of reggae. It’s 1980 London, and Martha sneaks out of her house to attend an all-night party with a friend. Once there, it’s not long before she meets a young man named Franklyn, and the two spend a night full of flirty banter, sly looks, and dance floor hugs. Driven much less by plot than by music and raw emotion, this one is a picture of black joy and young black love, far too new to be threatened by life’s complications. [PRIME VIDEO]
This one tells the story of two loves on two timelines, each threatened by things left unsaid and the lure of opportunity. When famed photographer Christina Eames suddenly dies, she leaves her daughter, Mae, conflicted with their relationship and full of questions. When Mae finds a photo and two life-changing letters hidden in a safe, she also finds herself in an unexpected romance with rising journalist Michael. While the film primarily focuses on their newfound love, the bittersweet romance between Mae’s parents, Christina and Isaac, is the film’s real gem. A lover of photography and big-city dreams, Christina is forced to balance pursuing her dreams in New York City with true love with a local fisherman in her small Louisiana town.
In late 1950s New York, Sylvie has a summer fling with jazz saxophonist Robert while the two work at her father’s record store. What everyone thinks is just summer love turns into so much more, but opportunities and obligations tear the couple apart before they can reach their full potential. Five years later, a chance meeting proves their bond is just as strong as it’s always been… but new responsibilities on both sides threaten to tear them apart again. What is each willing to sacrifice to keep their undeniable love alive? [Prime Video]
Queen and Slim
Those in the mood to watch a more Bonnie & Clyde kind of love need look no further than Queen and Slim. Pushed together after their online application date turns into a hostile police encounter that ends in the officer’s murder and escape, our nameless protagonists develop a connection based on survival, ingenuity, and courage. pure adrenaline. By getting to know each other as they run across the country, their shared trauma turns into a real spark as they share their hopes and dreams and build trust and respect while fighting for their lives. [FX]