The impact and decimation caused by HIV/AIDS on the gay community during the ’80s and ’90s has been largely overlooked by those on the outside. Despite the deaths of high profile figures such as Freddie Mercury there was a stigma surrounding the disease for decades. Whilst advances in medicine mean it’s now a manageable condition in developed countries, it’s still one of the biggest killers in Africa. Adapted from the memoirs of Timothy Conigrave, Holding the Man is a story of love and loss of two men growing up in Australia.
Tim (Ryan Corr) and John (Craig Stott) meet in college and fall in love. Tim is an aspiring actor whilst John is the captain of the Aussie Rules team. Despite the disapproval of their families the couple manage to sustain the relationship over 15 years, through the highs and lows of living apart, discrimination, jealousy and both of them contracting HIV.
Holding the Man gained great acclaim as a stage play and director Neil Armfield ensures that the film is also successful. He approaches the material with a lightness of touch which ensures that, whilst it’s extremely powerful and poignant, there’s also moments of humour and laughter. This is fortified by superb performances from both the leads. Whilst Holding the Man is ultimately a tragic tale, it’s also a testament to the power of love.
Holding the Man is out in cinemas from Friday.