The documentary Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? follows the story of Saar Maoz, a gay Israeli Jew who moved to London as a young man when his sexuality created major problems within his religious family. Saar’s new beginning in London is a mixed blessing: he learns that he is HIV positive. Though he finds solace in the London Gay Men’s Chorus, the film also charts the gradual reconnection with his family as he heals the rifts of the past.
It’s in the latter parts of the film, where Maoz makes return visits to Israel, and also where his mother and later his father visit him in London that the film evokes the strongest emotional responses. Indeed, Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? is, at times, intensely moving. This is helped in no small measure by the focus of the film – Saar Maoz – who combines charisma with thoughtfulness and eloquent explanations of his feelings that are clearly the result of years of self-reflection.
The film deserves enormous credit for not portraying Maoz’s family in the editing suite as unremitting and irredeemable bigots. This reviewer knows better than most how vicious and unconscionably cruel homophobic religious family members can be, but many religious people, when confronted with the reality of gay family members, overcome their learned negative responses. One of Maoz’s brothers is an enormously pompous and humourless bigot: but he is taken down in an extraordinary restaurant scene by a combination of Maoz’s honesty and his usually silent wife’s compassion for her brother-in-law. The major relationships that are followed with nuance are between Maoz and each of his parents. Capturing these developing relationships on screen is the film’s major strengths. We look for stories of redemption, and Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? delivers in spades.
As so often with gay films, especially documentaries, it tends to shy away from shining too much of a light on gay culture, because it can be every bit as hostile, unwelcoming, judgemental and alienating as the most zealous of religious outfits, with gay men similarly expected to adhere to certain rules and beliefs in order to be accepted. It also doesn’t look too hard at the issue that will certainly cross most objective viewers’ minds – that Maoz’s parents’ initial concerns may not have been misplaced, and may have been motivated by love rather than hate. It’s Maoz’s self-torture for mistakes he has made that rounds out the film and makes it far more interesting and certainly subtler than many another similar documentary.
Maoz’s story shines some light on gay culture, and more light on changing and more accepting Israeli culture. It is distinctive for its collision of those two worlds.
There are substantial extras on the disc including interviews with Maoz and family members such as his father, interviews with the directors and the recording of a panel discussion which is hosted by comedian and writer Julian Clary.
Cast: Saar Maoz Director: Tomer and Barak Heymann Writer: Tomer and Barak Heymann Released By: Peccadillo Pictures Certificate: 15 Duration: 84 mins Release Date: May 29th 2017