Natalia met David, and the two began a relationship in short order. After David joined the military, the two of them got married and moved to Germany for his post. While there, Natalia left unfulfilled and bore by traditional wifely duties such as laundry. So, after her mom had a heart attack, she came back to the U.S. and started becoming the “it” girl of the New York City nightclub scene. This was in the 1980s, and she became the go-to partier and singer for a lot of people. Drawing in crowds every night for her performances, sometimes she’d duet with someone else, meaning she always had to be on, which meant more drugs. The drugs would eventually affect her, and Natalia sort of lost herself.
Wishing to get out of that situation, Brian decides to transition back into a man. This was not an easy decision. Sometime later, he met Jim and wrote a book about his entire life. It is from this book that Brian is reading from at the start of the film. The writing process and the book’s publication is not explored in this film whatsoever. As such, I have no clue how long it was in-between everything and the book’s release.
I’m Gonna Make You Love Me is so averse to letting people in on Brian’s life now that the most we find out about Jim is that he is a botanist. This information comes at the very end of the film. It is also when we are told of Brian’s current occupation – he is a substance abuse counselor. Knowing this earlier on would have really helped make the connection between his life as Natalia/ Tish and his life now stronger.
“…it does not introduce its main subject whatsoever.”
While I just used a lot of words to vent my frustration over the movie’s lack of clarity regarding its main subject, the film has a number of positives—the biggest plus of all being Brian. This man is bigger than life and perfectly happy to be so. His enthusiasm and zest for everything come across in full swing. Other interviewees are just as engaging, such as her duet partner Michael.
Bernstein also tells Brian’s life in a non-linear fashion, which makes for an engaging viewing session, as piecing this and that part together is fun. Well, up to a point at least, as once the nightclub scene becomes the focus, the film does go into a more standard narrative format. But it still works, as by this point, despite the issues, you are invested in his life.
I’m Gonna Make You Love Me is missing a proper opening, as context for its subject is crucially missing. This frustratingly includes telling the viewer who the heck the movie is about. But Brian, and the other interviewees, are lively and engaging. The film’s non-linear style is also compelling, so the film, while a far cry from great, is an okay one-time watch.
I’m Gonna Make You Love Me was scheduled to screen at SXSW 2020.
"…This man is bigger than life..."