Holding the Man (2015)
The cover art of this film betrays the raw and resolute nature of this film. They appear to be dancing in golden light, but their reality is less sunny.
Tim and John meet in high school, and their romance blossoms from there. Although not everything is always roses – they go through all kinds of relationship and individual challenges. Eventually there is one challenge that they must face together, and will test them to the end.
It’s no secret what this film is about, but I honestly didn’t know the story line when I started watching. My preconception based on the limited info I had seen was that it was a romantic film. Indeed it was, but it was far more than I thought.
I enjoyed watching Tim and John’s relationship start and grow. The scenes in high school were so emotionally accurate that I remembered the insufferable crushes I had in school. (thank goodness those didn’t work out!) Of course it was the late 70s, so things were a little different for Tim and John than for me.
I especially liked the scenes with their families. John’s father tries, but just can’t see his son for who he is. I’d jump out the window too! Tim’s family, on the other hand, tries to accept Tim (and John). There is a touching scene at the wedding where Tim’s father arranges a dance.
But this film takes a turn towards the grim reality of AIDS/HIV that existed in the 80’s. There’s no shortage of films in this genre, but each one is different and tells its own story. For instance, Test was more about the fear and uncertainty. Philadelphia ended up being about introducing/mainstreaming the difficult topic. This film focuses more on the relationship between these two men as they deal with HIV.
We see how the family relationships continued into the two mens’ adulthood. John’s father has an awful scene in a hospital where its obvious that he cares more about his son’s things than his son’t life. It’s difficult to watch, as are the scenes towards the end of the film. Gut-wrenching, actually.
It’s pretty heartbreaking. I left the movie feeling like I had a hole in my chest, but I think that’s the point and sign that the film was successful.
Memorable moment: When John stands up to his dad on behalf of their relationship – when they get into the car, Tim exclaims, “That was fan-fucking-tastic!”