Holding the Man is Tim Conigrave’s memoir of his life with long-term partner John. The 1995 book was adapted for the stage in 2006 by Tommy Murphy and has now, thankfully, made its way onto the big screen. And what joy it is to see an Aussie movie gracing our cinema screens.
Tim (Corr) and John (Stott) meet at high school in the late 1970’s when they are about 17. Tim is the outgoing, slightly flamboyant and politically minded drama geek while John is the shy, devoutly Catholic footy hero. Tim pursues John relentlessly and the pair soon fall in love, having to go to great lengths to conceal their illicit romance in a time when homosexuality was still illegal.
Soon enough, the boys are found out but they bravely step up to face the world together.
The movie then jumps forward a few years and the young lovers are finalising their university studies and negotiating the tricky new realm of being grown ups. As gay men in the mid 80’s, they are also negotiating the horror that was to become the HIV/AIDS crisis. The film explores these years with an honesty that is confronting but remains positive and throws in some humour as well.
Of course, AIDS impacts greatly on their lives and the final act is that of their continuing love and devotion to one another.
This is as great a love story as there can ever be. From the lustful pashes in the sports shed at school when, as we may all remember, no other people have loved as deeply and as passionately, to the realisation that relationships and monogamy are hard work and sometimes, the only way to navigate through these murky waters is to just go with the flow. And if you can get through all that, if you make it through the tedious stuff, you may just discover the essence of life itself.
Holding the Man will make you laugh and cry, sometimes in the same scene. Corr and Stott give superlative performances and they are supported by a cast of some of this country’s finest actors. It is a wonderful movie of love and hope and I left the cinema in tears but felt so humbled that I was allowed a glimpse of their extraordinary love affair.
And yeah…..all love is worth fighting for.
4 1/2 stars
Love Flick xx
Director : Neil Armfield
Starring : Ryan Corr, Craig Stott, Guy Pearce, Sarah Snook, Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Fox, Tom Hobbs
Running Time : 124 minutes
Release Date : In Cinemas Now