It’s been a while since I’ve seen a homoromantic masterpiece and with intimacy, affection, and romance at an all time low in my personal life, I almost cried tears of joy when the thought crossed my mind. Praise Jesus, Netflix has added a few new homoromantic movies. I clicked the first one I saw, I just couldn’t wait to see some homoromantic love, it lifts my spirit in a way that few things do.
Holding The Man is a time-hopping film that’s part coming of age film, part romance, part drama, that centers around a romance that develops between two Catholic School students in 1977 Australia, Timothy & John. Timothy is an actor in the drama department, he is a true character; loud, funny, sweet, almost rude, cute, and brave – he’s that friend that your mother has a crush on and every time he comes over your house, he does what he can to make you feel more uncomfortable with that fact. He’s that friend who, when naked photos of you leak on the internet and everyone at school is talking and pointing, takes all his clothes off and walks through the entire school, yelling, “What’s the big deal?” This character feels like a real, complete person, and it’s wildly refreshing, especially given that it’s an English speaking film.
John is introduced to us as during a football game on campus, he is aggressive, and fast, and seemingly good. But, when we experience John later in the film we are introduced to a much sweeter, calmer, quiet type. John is the truest of all sweethearts, he doesn’t speak as often as Timothy, but he’s present and he surprises us with his bravery throughout the film… He is brave. I admire the shit out of him. I want to be as brave as John when it counts. John is what we call “clutch”.
The pair’s relationship begins with such ease, in of the cutest scenes I’ve ever seen. After it has become quite clear that Timothy is crushing on John, after he takes every opportunity to talk to him at school, after Tim invites John to a dinner with friends and in a game of pass the kiss, where their lips briefly meet, in a moment that surprisingly didn’t phase John, Tim nervously calls John’s house one night. He gets John on the phone and is trying to get to the fact that he likes him, but he’s nervous and John, seemingly not knowing where this is going, rushes off the phone to get to the dinner table with his parents. Timothy is left feeling defeated until a few moments later when his mother informs him that a boy from school is on the phone. Tim, in the sweetest way possible, says, “I like you” and without skipping a beat, John says, “I like you too.” “Does this mean we’re going out?” said Tim. “You haven’t asked me yet,” responded John.
“John, will you go around with me?
As you may have imagined, Timothy & John’s love experiences much resistance from the outside world, in the beginning. We’ve seen it a million times, right? A parent finds out…. and they’re so disapointed, and they forbid it ever happen again, yadda yadda yadda. But, in every moment that you feel a solid expectation coming…. something different happens. This isn’t just a story that you’ve heard a million times, it’s a true story written by the man that the character “Timothy” is based on and it feels real. Sixty percent of what makes this film so powerful are the relationships. I don’t want to tell you much about the film, because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but you watch these men’s relationship grow over a 15 year period and you feel it, like it’s yours. From their first kiss to their brief break up when Tim goes away to drama school, to their last moments together. But, this film isn’t just about these characters, it’s about the lives of men who dared to love men during a time when it wasn’t accepted. Sure, we think we’ve all heard that story a million times, but this one does it a refreshing way. One of the most resonating moments in the film, for me personally happens while Tim is in a movement class at drama school, students are embodying monkeys, navigating the space together and separately as monkeys with their professor giving them guidance along the way (actors will get this). The professor says, “Tim, effeminate monkeys don’t get work.” That moment was so big for me and there are a series of other encounters with the church, parents, bar patrons and the like, that remind you of what people go through for love. Some of my favorite moments are between Timothy & John and their friends at school as they try to come to terms with their homoromantic love.
Again, I don’t want to tell you too much about this film, but I do suggest you watch it. There’s enough nudity to satisfy your curiosity, not too much that it’s distracting and it’s well acted. It’s one of my favorites.