The Photograph delivers with a tender love story that unfolds between two vulnerable people who weren’t even looking for love. Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield will make you believe in love again as their delicate romance weathers a cruel world hellbent on smothering their fledgling love. Those in long distance relationships will find hope here. Those wanting to see positive Black love sans economic and toxic emotional struggle will also find much to love in The Photograph.
Barry Jenkin’s third directorial masterpiece, If Beale Street Could Talk, is a film adaptation of the 1974 James Baldwin novel of the same name. The love story follows Clementine “Tish” Rivers and Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt, childhood friends who blossom into lovers in 1970s New York. Their joyous love sees them through, even getting a landlord to rent to them in a time when many renters refused to rent to Black tenants. He specifically states that he gives them the loft at a good rate because he loves seeing young couples in love, regardless of race. Racism rears its ugly head, however, when Fonny is falsely accused on the lies of a racist police officer. A now pregnant Tish fights to clear Fonny’s name before the birth of their first child. Their love is beautiful, their families support them wholeheartedly, and Black love is represented as the light in a grim world that we all know it to be. Read the novel and watch the film for a double treat.
Rafiki is a 2018 Kenyan queer love story that is political by its very existence. The film was initially banned due to Kenya’s homophobia and anti-LGBT laws. Director Wanuri Kahiu successfully sued the Kenyan government, got the ban lifted, and played this amazing moving to sold-out crowds at a Nairobi cinema. This fighting spirit is encapsulated in the love story between Ziki and Kena. The two fight for one another, and find themselves reunited, their love stronger than ever, even after a painful separation.
Watch this amazing movie on YouTube and Prime Video.
Rag Tag is a Nigerian love story centering on Raymond (nicknamed Rag) and Tagbo (Tag). They explore an ever deepening connection between them that starts as childhood best friends and eventually blossoms into brave love that conquers borders, social pressures, and tired homophobia. This film gets bonus points for exploring homophobia from a social lens, and not putting the two men through horrific abuse for cinematic sake. Their emotional regulation is as much an obstacle as the social pressures conspiring against them. The film ends on a triumph note with a kiss that is all the more brave for out-of-universe reasons.
This charming rom-com takes the comedic best of Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani. Our title couple start in reverse, breaking up early in the film. Viewers are then treated to them slowly repairing their relationship while navigating a series of hijinks. We all love a light rom-com that allows us to see love repair itself. Bonus points for representation of natural hair, Pakistani men, and Black women’s joy!
The Weekend is a romantic comedy featuring two Black love stories coalescing into one smartly written film. The star studded cast includes Sasheer Zamata, DeWanda Wise, Tone Bell, and Y’Lan Noel. Hijinks ensue on a weekend getaway, when sarcastic comedian, Zadie, (Zamata) becomes romantically entangled with her ex (Bell) and his new girlfriend (Wise), while feeling sparks for a new beau (Noel). Kim Whitley plays Zadie’s wisecracking Mother, rounding out the quintet. Bonus points for Zadie’s natural hair representation.
A dashing German business executive falls in love with the beautiful, sensual singer-songwriter on the last day of his New York business trip. The recipe for love is all there: two hearts, one picturesque setting, and a shot clock putting on the pressure. The film eschews rom-com coincidences, giving a more natural feeling to the growing connection between the two lovers. Also, refreshingly, the interracial aspect of their relationship is addressed but not focused on as some superficial obstacle. As an added treat, Nicole Beharie performs 5 original songs in the film.
Juanita is a story of a Black woman tired of the *bullish*. Juanita is a single mom who did the best she could to raise her children, and like many Black women, remain everything for everyone who needs her. The inciting incident of the film is Juanita deciding that her entitled, ungrateful children and their no count father are their own problems. She literally just leaves, physically and mentally, on a journey to rediscover Juanita. Even more impressive, while romance figures into the equation in the form of a romantic pairing with an Indigenous male lover, Juanita always keeps the self-discovery journey as the main plot point. Romance is relegated to a subplot, while self-love takes center stage.
The Obamas represent a modern fairytale for many people. Former President Barack Obama once recounted a time when he and Michelle Obama were dining at a restaurant that happened to be owned by a former boyfriend of the then First Lady. He had joked around with Michelle that if she had married the owner, she’d own the magnificent restaurant now. Michelle Obama replied, “[n]o, if I was married to him [owner], he would be the President of the United States of America right now.” Former President Obama always smiles when he tells that anecdote, speaking on how Michelle’s powerful presence has always helped spur him toward greatness. Southside With You captures one day in their magical fairytale. The Obama approved film shows us what made the two fall in love in southside Chicago all those years ago.
Watch the magic on Prime Video.
We hope you enjoyed these films that see Black people being loved on the way they deserve. Until next time, Incluvies.