While Hollywood movies like Philadelphia and theatre plays like Angels in America have always focused on the lives of gay people who are HIV positive, the documentary Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?, directed by the brothers Barak and Tomer Heymann, offers us a novel approach to this theme. Following the life of Saar, an Israeli guy who migrated to London and sings in a chorus, we discover the challenges of dealing with the diagnostic, the complicated relationship with his family and the complex realities of living abroad in a foreign country.
The movie is itself a trip, taking us from the United Kingdom to Israel and back. We explore the life of Saar in his daily routine, from the support of the gay community in the London Gay Men’s Chorus to his frequent checkups with medical authorities in London. Saar, a regular gay life dealing with the struggles of acceptance and homophobia, shows us his strength and his remarkable good humour. While his family has strong beliefs associated to Judaism, Saar finds himself trapped between his search for freedom and the respect of other people’s beliefs.
As a documentary, Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? is a balanced production, showing us the perspective of the protagonist and the sometimes controversial opinions of friends and relatives. The film is also an excellent way to further discuss and overcome stereotypes associated to being HIV+. The big lesson we all have to learn with this movie is that love, after all, triumphs. With a happy ending, which is also reflected in the real life of Saar and his family, the protagonist starts a new life, by helping himself and helping others.
In the Q&A session at the Berlinale, Saar and his family accompanied the audience and described their feelings after seeing the documentary for the first time. They were able to recognize the evolution of their own life. While many members of Saar’s family were supportive since the beginning, others were afraid of the HIV, due to fear or simply because of their own lack of knowledge on the subject.
The format of the movie is a claustrophobic use of the camera, giving attention to the details and, at times, with extreme close-ups. This approach results in making the audience feel close to Saar’s own personal drama, and it definitely helps to promote an emphatic view of his situation. As Saar mentioned in his speech after the film, the documentary helped him to improve his own self-esteem and, ultimately, to make the decisions that eventually led to his happiness today.
This movie is a must for those who are passionate about gay documentaries, and those who enjoy stories about reconciliation of apparent incompatible worlds and points of view.