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In the 1970s, a young Australian boy, Timothy, finds himself confused. He falls for the captain of the football team. What follows shows all aspects of a relationship, regardless of gender or sexual preference. Conflict, temptation, and a huge burden which will affect every aspect of their lives.

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Holding the Man movie full length review - stock melodrama with recognisable mainstream tropes

I'll say from the outset as a gay male I wanted this to be great and elements of it were, so I'm not coming from a perspective of critical indifference.

I read the book when it came out and so knew what I was in for, all in all I must say the film was pretty faithful to it and didn't shy away from its most confronting or gruelling contents. I wondered beforehand whether it would or not and was impressed that it dealt with all the heaviest stuff head on, and did so well. The movie also gave me insights that my imagining as I read the book didn't, which I found illuminating and very interesting. I am from Melbourne, Australia where most of this story happened, so am familiar with its locales and some of them are of personal significance to me, so there is some overlap. There were many very strong elements in this film and as with Woody Allen's 'Irrational Man', it should have been great. The historical, social and cultural details of the mise- en-scene, costume, dialogue and even inflection were incredibly accurate, having lived through them myself, and lovingly, painstakingly recreated. Strong performances abounded, with standouts being Craig Stott who gave an incredible performance as John Caleo on par with Meryl Streep only less gimmicky, and that of the actress who played his mother, who gave a beautiful, nuanced performance. The film was for the most part very watchable, with warmth, drama and humour. Its filmmaking basics were very strong. Unfortunately, director Neil Armfield and/or producers went for an overlay of somewhat cheesy, narrated-by-crowd- pleasers pop songs that spelt out the emotions episodically and in a too obvious, simplistic way sometimes. Some of these songs and moments worked and were very touching, but evidently they were aiming for the youth market and it didn't work for me. Second of all, the film is of a genre satirised on Shaun Micallef's Mad As Hell as 'Reflecting Your Comfortable Middle Class Life Back To You And Validating It', Micallef's alternate title for such Aussie schlock as 'Packed To The Rafters', from whence came Ryan Corr who played Tim Conigrave, perhaps tellingly. I would have loved that kind of thing in my twenties, not knowing any better, but now it makes me want to reach for a bucket. And it's not cynical, bitter old age, it makes for dramatically inferior melodrama in my opinion. These two in my view major flaws really marred 'Holding The Man' for me and while professional filmmaking abounded and there were many fine elements, sadly these two errors almost dragged it down into prime time soap opera fare at times, 'Home and Away'. The excellent TV series 'Puberty Blues' which covered the 70's in a similar fashion managed to avoid such pitfalls, was a serious drama and a lot of fun, and managed to achieve art in my opinion. I have a reverent amount of respect for the blood, sweat and tears that go into a movie production, especially when there are some fine elements and great performances, so I don't like to criticise, but due to these elements I could only give it this lower rating.