Holding The Man tear-jerker takes a hold

Ryan Corr and Craig Stott in Holding The Man.
Ryan Corr and Craig Stott in Holding The Man.

IT takes something special to draw a tear from this critic.

I could probably count on one hand the number of movies that have made me tear up.

I went into Holding The Man knowing only of its reputation as a tear duct cleanser, confident that it would not leave me reaching for the tissues.

Turns out I needed those tissues, because my jacket sleeves were drenched by the end.

Based on the book by Australian Timothy Conigrave from his personal experiences, Holding The Man chronicles the tumultuous relationship between Conigrave (Ryan Corr) and his boyfriend John Caleo (Craig Stott).

The two men from different worlds (Timothy is a drama student and John a footballer) begin their forbidden love affair at their Catholic high school during the 1970s and face a disapproving family and society.

Their relationship spans 15 years through career success, long distance and personal crises.

While many of the plot points that pepper the relationship now seem like story-telling cliches (this is basically Romeo and Juliet with a gay couple), Holding The Man makes them feel organic.

There is a concerted effort, from those behind and in front of the camera, to have this feel genuine with an aim for emotional realism every step of the way.

It also balances heart, humour and tragedy without being emotionally manipulative.

Corr delivers an outstanding performance as the actor who can be as dramatic in life as he is on the stage, but the entire cast is sensational.

One minor quibble is the underuse of the talented Sarah Snook as Timothy�s friend.

Perhaps timing plays an important role in the power of this film.

While the book was published in 1995, we are still waiting for our government to recognise marriage equality, proving not a lot has changed in 20 years.

Maybe it should take a look at this amazing film.

THE ESSENTIALS

Holding The Man (MA)

Directed by: Neil Armfield

Starring: Ryan Corr, Craig Stott, Guy Pearce, Sarah Snook,

Five stars

Review by: Julian Wright

In cinemas today