Love is in the air and so are your Valentine’s Day plans. While it’s probably too late to get a reservation at a fancy restaurant, you can still have a romantic evening at home by cooking for your S.O. and watching a romantic movie. Only one question left, though: Which movie should you watch? Sure, there are tons of romance movies out there, but not all of them have the right mix of romantic and steamy to really be the centerpiece of a hot date night. That’s why we’ve curated some of the sexiest romance movies you can find out there.
And by sexy, we really do mean sexy and full of sexual tension, not just a romance movie with a lot of sex scenes.
1. True Romance (1993)
If you and your S.O. can never seem to find a compromise between action movies and romance movies, True Romance might be the truce film you’re looking for. This 1993 action and romance film written by none other than Quentin Tarantino stars Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater. Slater brings back some of that Byronian romantic hero aesthetic he had in The Heathers for his role as Clarence Worley who marries Alabama, the call girl played by Arquette.
There’s just one problem — Alabama is still held by the neck by her pimp. Clarence helps her escape and the two are forced to flee from a gang after Clarence mixes up Alabama’s bag with a boatload of cocaine. The movie features graphic violence but the stakes, and the couple’s willingness to stick by each other, just make this romance movie sexier.
2. The Handmaiden (2016)
You’ve heard of con men falling in love with their targets but how about con women falling in love with their targets? The Handmaiden is a teeth-grindingly tense lesbian romance movie between a Japanese lady and her Korean servant girl. Trying to summarize this movie here would reveal too much about the plot, but if you decide to watch it, just trust the process because this film will change the way you see thimbles.
3. Lust, Caution (2007)
Lust, Caution is not the movie you want to watch with a person you’ve only recently started dating. Actually, it may not be the best movie to watch for Valentine’s Day unless you’re sure the person you’re watching it with doesn’t mind a little consensual sexual violence.
The film is based on a Chinese novella of the same name and revolves around a tense romance born of deceit set against the backdrop of Japan-controlled Hong Kong and Shanghai. Tony Leung’s Mr. Yee is a Japanese collaborator while Tang Wei’s Chia-chi is a student turned spy. Her mission? Seduce Mr. Yee and help her fellow spies figure out his routine, eventually allowing them to assassinate him. The movie plays a lot with the idea of love and lust as commodities without being boringly high-brow about it. Think of it as the Fifty Shades of Grey that Fifty Shades wanted to be.
4. The Secretary (2002)
Speaking of kink, The Secretary is a milder erotic film about a shy secretary and a domineering attorney named Edward Grey who really takes the cake for being the Mr. Grey. The two realize that they’re accidentally turning each other on at work and fall into a…less than professional relationship. There’s the usual grappling about whether their feelings are ‘right’ or not and a lot of push and pull between the two of them, but it’s got a happy ending that’s perfect for a romantic night with your kinky true love.
5. Bound (1996)
You know those old-school movies about dangerous ex-criminal guys getting together with relatively innocent ladies? This is that movie except they’re it’s a WLW romance. Corky tries to turn her life around and now works as a plumber, but it puts her on the path of Violet who’s linked to a violet-tempered mafia member. Violet later convinces Corky to go on the run with her and start a new life — as usual with these types of movies, the money comes from less than legitimate sources and the mafia are not happy about being stolen from.
Oh, and if you’re sick of seeing LGBTQ+ couples have a bad ending, these two get to ride off into the sunset, so enjoy!
6. Shelter (2007)
Shelter follows artist Zach and writer Shaun as they navigate the conflict between their emotional needs and what’s best for other people. And no, it’s not one of those situations where they only feel conflict because they’re obliged to stay in line with expectations of homophobic family members, but because Zach doesn’t want to be cut off from his young nephew, Cody, whose mother believes he shouldn’t be around queer people. Go figure.
Ultimately, it’s a touching film about found family with people who truly support you and this shows up not only between Zach and Shaun but also between them and Cody.
7. Wuthering Heights (2011)
What could be more passionate than the original story about love on the moors? Wuthering Heights is about the all-consuming romance between Catherine and Heathcliff as they go on a war path to pursue their love for each other, much to everybody else’s detriment and ruin. What this film lacks in explicit content, it more than makes up for in the passion between its characters so it still makes the cut for one of the most sensual films you can watch.
8. Carol (2015)
Carol is a ’50s period romance between the titular character and Therese, a department store employee. Carol initiates her seduction of Therese by leaving her gloves on the checkout counter, forcing Therese to get in contact in order to return the gloves. One thing leads to another as Carol draws Therese further into her social sphere, all while Carol’s husband grows increasingly suspicious of the two’s true relationship.
9. Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
No, not the 2022 adaptation. The 1988 adaptation has a more forbidden vibe to it because it keeps the original period setting. Based on a novel of the same name, Dangerous Liaisons is a convoluted and tense drama about rich people seducing each other and messing with each other’s relationships. At the end of the film, you’ll be left wondering who hasn’t slept with everyone yet, but while that may sound like it would be more vulgar than sensual, the movie really pulls it off with the same scandalous subtlety of the book.
10. Body Heat (1981)
Body Heat is just one of the many sexy films to come out of the ’80s, but it has a distinct charm thanks to its noir themes. Like The Handmaiden, this film is sexier the less you know about it so we’ll skip the details. The long and short of it is that lawyer Ned Racine starts an affair with the wife of a wealthy businessman. The two later plot to murder her husband so they can make off with his money. It’s all very sexy.