The CONSEQUENCE -- In German with English subtitles at the K-B Janus.

"The Consequence" is the story of two tempestuous young lovers who, as Rosalynn Carter might put it, happen to be gay. Its director, Wolfgang Petersen, is said to have worried that the racy issue of their homosexuality would take away from the basic love story. Would that it did! As it is, his star-crossed couple are such idiots that their sexuality is the least of his worries.

Our lovers, Thomas and Martin (played by Ernst Hannawald and Jurgen Prochnow), meet in prison where Martin is serving a 2 1/2-year sentence for . . . hmmm . . . seduction of a minor. Thomas, the teenaged son of one of the guards hangs around and gets a part in a prison play directed by Martin. Their eyes meet . . . they share a cigarette . . . and it's just a matter of time before the kid suprises Martin by sneaking into his cell, security not being one of the prison's strong points. "What's been keeping you?" Thomas purrs, Mae West-style.

Martin, it develops, is not one of your lightning intelects. He gets out of jail and finds that Thomas waited for him and wants to come live with him. Does Martin whisk the boy away from his drunken lout of a father and off to a new city or country for a fresh start? No-o-o-o-o. He's got to go to the kid's father and ask permission. "Are you nuts?" Thomas asks, a though undoubtedly going through every mind in the audience. But he allows the presumably older-but-wiser Martin to pop the question anyway. The consequences are immediate, disastrous and predictable.

And this is just in the first few minutes. Martin and Thomas embark on a series of misadventures that would put a "Love of Life" writer to shame. The characters they encounter are straight from the soaps, too: The reform-school guard is burly, crewcut and heavily tatooed, and so on. Needles to say, he and other members of society won't let these gently people live their lives.

In this sort of atmosphere a mistake in the subtitles becomes an occasion of great humor. Thomas is on his downhill spiral in reform school and word gets back to Martin that he's fading fast. You wouldn't recognize him, says the informant, they've broken his spirit. Worse, he's got a scar on his face. My God, say Martin, what did the guard to to him?" "He -- he gouged him with a sugar cube."

It's enough to make you cry.