Thursday, March 17, 2016

BFI Flare 30: Who's Gonna Love Me Now? (2016)

When Saar moved from Israel to London 17 years ago to escape his religious families disapproval of his gay identity, he quickly found love in a stable relationship with the man of his dreams.  Yet as this relationship suddenly broke, he moved into the ‘scene’ and dated a new guy more into hard drugs, money scams and parties.  One day his new man arrived at his door with the ultimate bad omen – an HIV diagnosis.

Who's Going To Love Me Now
Saar with the LGMC
Saar then found the London Gay Men’s Chorus, a place where he could share his story and be accepted as an insider instead of the foreigner running from his orthodox family and native Jewish culture.  His family feature heavily – both parents come to visit him in London, as well as Saar travelling to his “home” – and clearly love him, but are disgusted and fearful at his ‘choice of lifestyle’ and ‘dangerous disease’. 

WGTLMN is primarily a movie about Saar’s relationship with his family (and his conscience), but also its representation of Israeli life reinforces my worries about Israel being inhabited partly by zealous patriots and religious extremists.  They may not be violent extremists (governmental geopolitics aside) but they are Torah literalists that life their lives entirely by The Book.  How do you communicate with such strict people?

The film has patience for differences of opinion, with the camera lingering during arguments allowing both sides of the family to speak, and does not frame his family as bigots (except for a deeply egotistic brother), just unrepentant religious conservatives.  His mother has clear cognitive dissonance between loving and worrying about her son, and also knowing and believing that the Torah punishes homosexual behaviour with death…
Who's Going To Love Me Now
Saar in the Kibbutz
Prolific Israeli filmmaker brothers Tomer & Barak Heymann have presented Saar’s story with compassion and a sense of humour, especially whilst cutting the Israeli Defense Force with shots from Gay Pride and the Gay Men’s Chorus – two very different forms of masculinity. 

But where most stereotypes about gay men concern promiscuity, Saar is, and always has been, looking for love.  Yet, as if (some) gay men weren’t preoccupied enough with anxieties about long-term relationships and ending up alone, HIV positivity makes the title question even more prescient and tragic.  But after watching the film, with full objectivity I can say: Who’s gonna love him now??  The audience.

Who's Gonna Love Me Now plays at BFI Flare 30 on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th of March

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