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Holding the Man


Stars: Ryan Corr, Craig Stott, Sarah Snook, Anthony LaPaglia, Camilla Ah Kin, Kerry Fox, Guy Pearce, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Hobbs, Luke Mullins

Director: Neil Armfield

The storyline is simple and direct – two male teenagers fall in love despite pressure from their Catholic parents and stern Catholic school and stay in love for 15 years until death tragically parts them.

Which rather sounds like the clichéd plot of a romantic drama from the Mills and Boon back catalogue.

Here, however, as sensitively told by director Neil Armfield and adapted by screenwriter Tommy Murphy, working from the popular memoir and stage play by Timothy Conigrave, this true story of the two Melbourne schoolboys who fall in love and remain together until the death of one of them from AIDS, Holding the Man emerges as powerful and affecting.

Unfamiliar faces add realism.

Ryan Corr and Craig Stott are effective as the lovers, through the ups and downs of their relationship, which features Corr studying at stage school with (sadly only briefly) Geoffrey Rush (“Tim, effeminate monkeys don’t get work") as his drama teacher. Useful support, too, comes from Anthony LaPaglia as Stott’s father and Kerry Fox and Guy Pearce as Corr’s parents.

Holding the Man works dramatically both as an essentially Australian story and also as a narrative that creates a universal picture of the mercilessness cruelty of HIV and AIDS.

Alan Frank

Australia 2015. UK Distributor: Peccadillo. Colour.
127 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 18 Jun 2016