Holding the Man

DRAMA; 2hr 8min

STARRING: Ryan Corr, Craig Stott, Guy Pearce, Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Fox, Camilla Ah Kin

True love: Caleo (left) and Corr with Sarah Snook

Tim Conigrave and John Caleo (Corr and Stott) are a sparky drama kid and a full-on footballer in a Melbourne Catholic high school. What’s more, they’re a couple when boy on boy is a love that had better not dare to so much as whisper its name, and if it does dare, it’s slapped down quick-smart. In 1976, homosexuality is not seen as the province of polite, middle-class boys. These boys pay that narrowness no mind. Persevering together for 15 years, they defy social convention and their disapproving parents (Fox, Pearce, Ah Kin and LaPaglia), only to slam against the iron fist of AIDS in the 1980s.


Directed by Neil Armfield, Tommy Murphy’s sexy, expansive screenplay of Conigrave’s 1995 memoir (from which Murphy also adapted a stage play) takes stock of many intimate places: infatuation, passion, a trial separation, sexual experimentation and, finally, of the unsparing payment that exacts. Corr and Stott don’t hold back, either, as they wholeheartedly go the distance — Corr with Tim’s mercurial impetus and deepening self-realisation and Stott with John’s inherently sweet nature. Together, they’ve all built something beautiful.