While it’s unfortunate that outdated movie stereotypes like the Latin lover and the spitfire Latina were used to define the romantic and sexual nature of Latines in cinema for so long, there are still plenty of examples of Latin films that don’t cross into offensive “hot pool boy” or “sexy maid” territory. And some of them are on your favorite streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO Max. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here are 15 Latino romance flicks you can check out with your significant other (or by yourself) this weekend.
There’s a lot of love going around in the 2001 romantic comedy Tortilla Soup. Newly-divorced Hortencia (Raquel Welch) wants Mexican-American chef Martin (Héctor Elizondo) to be her next husband but Martin is really in love with her daughter, Yolanda (Constance Marie). Plus, Martin’s daughters are caught up in their own romantic endeavors, including Leticia (the late Elizabeth Peña), a high school chemistry teacher, who falls for the school’s baseball coach Orlando (Paul Rodriguez). Good thing there’s some tasty Mexican food at the table or chances are the entire movie would’ve taken place in the bedroom.
Other must-sees on Netflix are Raising Victor Vargas about a young Dominican Casanova who falls for a street smart and sensible young woman in Lower East Side Manhattan; Someone Great stars Gina Rodriguez as a New York City-based music journalist with her girlfriends for one last night before moving to the West Coast; Falling Inn Love stars Cuban actress Christina Milian as a San Francisco designer who wins an old New Zealand lodge in a raffle and falls for the restoration expert; and, if you feel like binge-watching a TV show, the debut season of Dark Desire (Oscuro Deseo) was the most-watched non-English series in Netflix’s history. It follows a law school professor who begins an affair with a college student.
Midaq Alley is a 1995 Mexican film starring Salma Hayek and Daniel Giménez Cacho (Tear This Heart Out). The sprawling, 140-minute film was submitted by Mexico as their entry in the 68th annual Academy Awards; Hayek also shows up in another one of her lesser-known films, the 2001 drama In the Time of Butterflies where she plays Dominican Republic resistance fighter Minerva Mirabal. The film is heavy on politics, but there is a little time for love featuring baby-faced Marc Anthony.
Next, you could do a lot worse in choosing a romantic comedy than Ana Maria in Novela Land. The title character is played by Mexican-Lebanese actress Edy Ganem, who magically switches places with a telenovela star. Meanwhile, Everybody Loves Somebody is a 2017 Mexican romantic comedy about a doctor who doles out relationship advice although she is unlucky in love, and Viaje is a black-and-white romance set in Costa Rica about a couple who spends a spontaneous weekend together.
We’re not sure exactly what talented chef Tita (Lumi Cavazos) put in the rose sauce she prepared in Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate), but the “strange alchemical phenomenon,” as the narrator describes it, gets everyone hot and bothered. The “I’ll have what she’s having” fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally… is great, but it has nothing on this. Peruse HBO Max a bit more after dinner with Tita and find The Last Romantic (El último romántico), a 13-minute short film about a bowling alley employee named Héctor, who has a love for detective stories, as he tries to profess his love for his co-worker Magda. Then, in An Unexpected Love (El Amor Menos Pensado), an Argentine couple attempts to put their relationship back together when their kid goes off to college; Produced in real-time and in a single shot, El Amor no Puede Esperar (Love Can’t Wait) follows a man and woman who are accidentally locked into one of the last video stores in Mexico City; and In Other Words, an app developer crosses the border to Mexico to land the girl of his dreams.