February being both LGBT+ History month and the month of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to give last month’s round-up a little theme. As such, the films I’ve chosen are about either the LGBT+ community, love, or both. These films are not your standard rom-coms, they’re often marmite-like. Hopefully my suggestions will be right up your street!
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
7/10, available on Netflix
The first film on my list is about the LGBT+ community. More precisely, it is a documentary following activist Victoria Cruz as she looks into the death of Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender veteran of the Stonewall riots and fellow activist. The documentary seems to be divided into two parts. Half of the film tries to prove Johnson was murdered and the other half is comprised of interviews and archival footages of Marsha and her colleagues. The investigative sections feel unfinished while the collected footage provides a whole and piercing story of the trans struggle in the late 1990s. The result is a brilliant story that is somewhat tinged by a slight error in how to tell it. This tinge is all that prevents the film from being a masterpiece. It is well worth watching, especially if you don’t know much about Johnson or what she has done for the LGBT+ community.
7/10, available on Netflix
This is another film that focuses on the LGBT+ community. However, this is fictional. The film discusses the difficulties of being gay, especially in an all-boys school that uses ‘gay’ as an insult for anyone different. Surprisingly, this film is probably the closest to a teen rom-com out of all the films chosen this month, despite there being no suggestion of romantic interest between any of the characters. The storyline of the main characters largely follows an ‘enemies to friends to lovers’ trope, similar to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. However, this is all subverted by lack of a romance. Personally, I prefer it this way. Adding romance would have distracted the audience from the true message of the film: that being gay should not be synonymous with being an outcast.
Malcolm and Marie
8/10, available on Netflix
My last film is not a conventional Valentine’s Day film. This is because the relationship-stage of being in love it chooses to showcase is the end. The film spans an evening in which our characters, played by Zendaya and John David Washington, oscillate between tearing into one another and trying to enjoy each other’s company. This film is an emotional rollercoaster; this is your warning. Zendaya is certainly a force to be reckoned with, which I’m sure this is no surprise to fans of Euphoria. However, having only seen her in Spiderman and The Greatest Showman, her abilities to hold a serious and dramatic film with no sign of levity or humour came as a shock to the system. John David Washington, much like his father, seems to act the same character. This does detract from the film but happily also allows Zendaya to shine even more.