The Heymann brothers – Barak and Tomer –have been directing documentaries for quite a while (you may have come across them in 2015 with Mr. Gaga), usually on Israeli and Jewish topics. Who’s Gonna Love me Now is their latest work, having won the Panorama Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2016 Berlinale.
The film follows Saar, a 40-year old Israeli who has been living in London for the past 17 years. He’s also gay, HIV positive (after a self-destructive binge with sex and drugs following a long relationship break-up) and sings at the London Gay Men’s Choir. Struggling with his own identity and his issues with his family – the father doesn’t understand why can’t he just marry a girl and keep on being gay, while one of his brothers thinks of him as too irresponsible and dangerous to hang out with his nephews – Saar is trying to find himself a place in the world, while finally coming to terms with what his disease means.
It’s a good premise for a documentary – and the perfect recipe for some heart wrenching moments as Saar tries to reconnect with his family, while confronting their prejudice – but Who’s Gonna Love Me Now is missing the wow factor. The concept of time isn’t particularly clear – all we see could have easily have happened in a month or several years – and the staginess of some moments comes painfully across at some moments. Saar’s relation with the choir seems under-explored – the musical numbers here working almost as a, well, chorus, to fill in the story interludes – and though we love the moment where military drills are edited with the choir rehearsal footage (either for comedic relief or subliminal meaning, we’re not sure), you could completely remove all of the choir moments and lose nothing, story wise. After all, the strength of Who’s Gonna Love Me Now lies mostly on Saar’s family, particularly on his parents, as both visit him in London at different times, and we see the struggle between the unconditional love they clearly have towards Saar, and their difficulty in accepting his lifestyle. In the end, Saar (spoiler alert) decides to go back to his homeland and family, to help others like him to find a voice and acceptance in their world.
Still, as a not overly dramatic portrait of a gay man with HIV (and managing to avoid cheap sentimentality, quite a feat with such a delicate topic), Who’s Gonna Love Me Now is definitely worth a watch.
Who’s Gonna Love Me Now will be released in UK cinemas on 7th April 2017.