There’s something unsettling—yet enlightening—about films with strange romances.
Movies that shed light on taboo or “strange” issues within relationships—such as abuse, betrayal, and adultery—often are successful and acclaimed in Hollywood. Sometimes it’s because audiences personally identify with the characters and their problems. Other times, these movies bring us into a world they’ve never seen.
Here is a list of Black films that have the strangest romantic relationships:
1. The Strange Thing About The Johnsons
This film, directed by Ari Aster, has possibly one of the strangest and most controversial romances seen in film. A father is hiding a huge secret that could ruin the family—but it’s not one that you would ever imagine. The father, Sidney (Billy Mayo), has secretly maintained a inappropriate relationship with his son for years. The strangest aspect of the plot is that his son is the aggressor, molesting his father whenever he gets a chance.
2. The Birth Of A Nation
“The Birth of a Nation” is possibly the most controversial film ever made. This motion picture’s plot revolves around an unintelligent and sexually aggressive Black man named Gus (Walter Long), who ultimately was hunted down by the Ku Klux Klan for chasing a white woman. This movie perpetuated negative stereotypes, was outright racist, and ultimately was a reflection of the times. A white woman in the film even jumped to her death in order to avoid being with a Black man. And now we have Chelsea Handler and Kendra Wilkinson.
3. Monster’s Ball
This movie shows how strange love can be. A widow, Leteci Musgrove (Halle Berry), falls in love with the man who executed her husband. Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton), a white corrections officer, hides this secret from his new girlfriend, and even allows her to move in with him. When Musgrove hears his horrible revelation, she visibly goes numb; but ultimately stays with her lover.
4. For Colored Girls
The film “For Colored Girls,” which was adapted from Ntozake Shanges’s 1975 stage play, dealt with homosexuality, domestic abuse, incest, and rape. The lives of nine African-American women converge, allowing the women deal with the chaos of their relationships. One character, Crystal (Kimberly Elise), loses her two children when her abusive husband throws them out of a high rise apartment window in a fit of rage. Another character, Jo (Janet Jackson), contracts HIV from her husband who was cheating on her with men. A majority of the characters struggles and problems stemmed from a their relationships with Black men, a coincidence that many audiences found strange and defamatory.
5. She Hate Me
In this Spike Lee film, a Harvard educated business man’s life takes a turn for the worse. After John Henry Jack Armstrong (Anthony Mackie) loses his job, he’s forced to find a quick way to make money. His ex-girlfriend Fatima (Kerry Washington), who is now a lesbian, pays him a huge sum of money to impregnate her girlfriend. This opportunity inspires Jack to go into the baby-making business, making $10,000 a pop to have sex with lesbians.
6. Their Eyes Are Watching God
Based on a Zora Neale Hurston novel, this story follows the life of a early 20th century woman named Janie Crawford (Halle Berry), who’s life has been damaged and marginalized throughout three marriages. Crawford goes from unions that were emotionally abusive and cold to a loving marriage that ends tragically, at her own hands.
7. How Stella Got Her Groove Back
In this movie, which was based on a Terry McMillan novel, a wealthy business woman named Stella (Angela Bassett) falls in love with a man who is half her age while on a vacation in Jamaica. The unlikely story turned out to be more likely than we thought, since the story was based on true events in her life. Unfortunately for the author, the true story didn’t end as happily as the novel: McMillan eventually divorced her husband, Jonathon Plummer, citing that she believed he was a closeted homosexual, and that he only married her in order to gain American citizenship.