Holding The Man

WRITTEN BY: Tommy Murphy 
DIRECTED BY: Neil Armfield
STARRING: Ryan Corr, Craig Stott, Guy Pearce, Anthony LaPaglia
RATING: 4 stars

Based on a true story, Holding The Man is about a 15-year romance between aspiring young actor Tim Conigrave (Ryan Corr) and high school football captain John Caleo (Craig Stott). They meet and fall in love at school in the 1970s but are then forced to hide their romance from their disapproving parents and a community unwilling to accept homosexuality until the 1980s AIDS crisis thrusts the issue into wider consciousness.

Holding The Man does not give audiences a particularly original story, but it is nonetheless a tragic and beautiful film. Every performance is magnificent, spearheaded by Corr and Stott who are believable in their emotionally gruelling roles. Guy Pearce is a welcome addition as Tim's father, while Anthony LaPaglia is heartbreaking to watch as John's dad. He has the difficult job of portraying a man in denial that his son is gay, which makes him almost villainous, while also softening the character by showing love for his son regardless of the way he lives his life. Geoffrey Rush also pops up as an acting coach, adding gravitas to an already exceptional film. Holding The Man is an emotional roller-coaster but its message is just as powerful and relevant today as it was when Conigrave wrote his memoir in the 1990s.