MOVIE REVIEW: Holding the Man

Review and illustration by Freya Bennett

Initially released August 27th, 2015, in cinemas around Australia, Holding the Man quickly received deserving praise by critics and filmgoers around the world. Racking up prestigious nominations and awards, this film is a must see for pretty much everyone (15 years and over) in the world.

Based on the true to life cult-classic memoir of Tim Conigrave and John Caleo, Holding the Man tells the tale of two Melbourne school boys falling in love in the unforgiving 1970s.  The warm, funny, and poignant tale follows their 15-year love affair through high school, university, break-ups, reconciliations, and finally a tragic AIDs diagnosis.

The memoir was published posthumously in 1995, just two months after Conigrave’s death, and follows the beautiful story of his life with high school sweetheart, John Caleo, and although I haven’t yet read the book (it’s on it’s way in the post as I type this, squeee!), the movie feels so real and touchable, it’s easy to recognise that this was a real life love story.

The movie’s lead actors Ryan Corr and Craig Stott deliver palpable chemistry on screen, making the film the beautiful piece of cinema that it is. As mentioned in many an interview, director Neil Armfield is renowned for an arduous audition process, obsessed with finding that perfect connection and chemistry between leading actors. And it pays off in Holding the Man with Ryan and Craig, because without the believable and authentic connection between these boys, the beautiful story of John and Tim would fall flat. I found myself wishing Ryan and Craig were a real-life couple after watching this film, just as we do with any film portraying such believable love. And I guess that is a testament to their acting skills and authenticity to the true life characters of Tim and John; we truly felt their performance of love, tenderness, and electric chemistry.

Directed by award winning Australian director Neil Armfield, with screenplay by award winning playwright Tommy Murphy, this film is something everyone should see, showing the true meaning behind ‘love is love’ and how crucial equality is. As Craig Stott said in an interview, “ doesn’t discriminate; human beings do, but love doesn’t.”

We have come a long way since 1970’s Melbourne, but we still have such a distance to travel, especially in Australia, where this film is set, as we are yet to achieve marriage equality. Films like Holding the Man portray and normalise the beauty of same sex relationships. As Ryan mentions in an interview with Same Same, “hopefully this film can help shed some light and somehow be a part of this movement, at least in this country. That’s what we’re hoping.”

The importance of this film is indisputable as prejudice towards LGBTQ+ people is still unbridled despite the leaps forward we are making.

Holding the Man is going to be available WORLDWIDE on Netflix from August 1st, 2016. Seriously, put the date in your diary because this film is incredible… and may just change your life.


Freya Bennett

Freya Bennett is the Co-Founder and Director of Ramona Magazine. She is a writer and illustrator from Melbourne, Australia who loves dreary grey days, libraries and coffee.
With a passion for grassroots activism and creative community, Freya began Ramona Magazine as an alternative to boring, image-obsessed media. Ramona Magazine is founded upon Freya’s core values of creative expression, equality, kindness and a little bit of feminist rage. You can follow her @thecinnamonsociety

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