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Holding The Man in the Steve Pafford movie review

Not so long ago I found myself at the cinema watching the much talked about ‘Melbourne movie’ that goes by the uplifting title Holding The Man.

With the story not being well known much outside of Australia, I wasn’t aware of the book or the play, but it’s all too evident from the somewhat flat direction the film makers have stuck to the confines of a theatre presentation format a little too rigidly.

Cinematography was perhaps the another of the weaker elements. It has the look, production qualities and scope of a TV telemovie, but one which somehow managed to maintain my attention throughout.

It’s a mildly interesting story, albeit not a particularly unique one. Having lived through the AIDS crisis of the ’80s myself (and abstaining from sex with men from the ages of 15-18 largely because of it) it certainly resonated with me, particularly when I realised John succumbs to his illness just eight weeks after its most famous casualty, Freddie Mercury.

If I had to use some keywords to sum up the film, I’d use exactly the same ones I’d plump for when I think of the ‘city’ it’s most strongly identified with: sweet, scruffy, small-town, provincial, occasionally amusing, lots of easy sex but lacking romance and fully fleshed out characters (we never understood or were allowed to see exactly why John and Tim were so attracted to each other, other than the physical).

So much left is to the assumption that all viewers have either read the book, or seen the play, but Holding The Man is certainly is a step above your average gay film fest fare, even if Guy Pearce wasn’t quite butch enough to play the homophobic dad. Great soundtrack too.

Steve Pafford

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