Tim and John fell in love while teenagers at their all-boys high school. John was captain of the football team, Tim an aspiring actor playing a minor part in Romeo and Juliet. Their romance...
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Tim and John fell in love while teenagers at their all-boys high school. John was captain of the football team, Tim an aspiring actor playing a minor part in Romeo and Juliet. Their romance endured for 15 years to laugh in the face of everything life threw at it - the separations, the discrimination, the temptations, the jealousies and the losses - until the only problem that love can't solve tried to destroy them.
Having seen a rather heavy-handed and pretentious play version of 'Holding the man' a few years ago, I had trepidations about seeing the film. I need not have worried as Neil Armfield's direction brings a truthful and touching reality to Timothy Conigrave's memoir. The slightly non-linear structure to the storytelling brings a cautious prescience to the audience that J.B. Priestley would be proud of, highlighting the sombre future awaiting our ill-fated protagonists. There are a few insightful parallels throughout the movie that deftly highlight the truths hidden between fact and fiction – there's a harrowing mirroring of grief portrayed in an audition to the agonising reality of death that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. The cinematography and music are judiciously time-specific as we travel through three decades with the characters. Each time-frame is beautifully evoked by film styles of the period and there's an accompanying soundtrack that is gloriously nostalgic. Both of the lead actors, Ryan Corr and Craig Stott, are perfectly cast as Tim and John respectively – each bringing a depth to these characters that makes them feel like family. The supporting cast are also superb; particularly Anthony LaPaglia, Camilla Ah Kin, Kerry Fox and Guy Pearce as the boys' parents. Special mention to Sarah Snook as their friend Pepe who resides on the periphery faithfully and staunchly. Also, there's a superb cameo from Geoffrey Rush as Tim's drama teacher at NIDA. It's graphic in places as it holds a powerful light over the passion of love and the bleakness of illness but the film is all the better for that; it shies away from nothing. Many fans of the original memoir should not be disappointed with this long-awaited adaptation and I am sure that if Timothy Conigrave was alive today, he'd be proud of this achievement in prolonging the legacy of his much-loved book.
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