A beautifully told and harrowing coming of age, love and humanity evolution story, HOLDING THE MAN just missed out on my Top 20 Movies of 2015 List. I reviewed this one back in August and it’s a sublime movie. You can win one of 3x copies of HOLDING THE MAN on Blu Ray with abundant thanks to the fine folks at Transmission Films. Find out how to win after my review…..all the best and good luck….JK.


HOLDING THE MAN is a rite of passage book to read if you are an Australian gay man, it is one of the greatest love stories I have ever read with more love than Romeo and Juliet, more tragedy than, well, also Romeo and Juliet, and more passion than most books written. It is also a coming of age story and a slice of life for the homosexuals in the world in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It is probably also the greatest story written about the effects of HIV and AIDS and a book that elevates and destroys your soul in one. It has been a very long time in the making, 20yrs really, since the book was published to coming to the screen, via a remarkable stage play. Transmission Films releases HOLDING THE MAN, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 128mins. 





In 1976, Timothy Conigrave fell in love with the captain of the school football team, John Caleo. This began one of the greatest love stories ever told spanning fifteen years in a time when it was unacceptable to be gay. They went through hatred, disapproval, separations, immense guilt, and horrendously, a fucked up disease and then death. The story is proof that The Beatles were right, LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED. When I look at this couple that is the love I long for in my life, regardless of their fates, it would be better to experience that love and live a short life than to not live that love at all.

The love story is incredible and the performances in the film are epic, besides the superb, but too brief, appearances of the supporting cast of Guy Pearce, Sarah Snook, Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia and Kerry Fox, we have two leads that just smashed into the acting world, both Ryan Corr and Craig Stott have a few roles under their belts but this movie will bring international recognition and many job offers. They overcame being actors in this movie and became Tim and John, the scene on the beach where John looks into Tim’s eyes, doesn’t need to say anything and just conveys everything. That one scene even brings a tear to my eye while writing about it. It expressed so much love and showed two people in the universe that were meant to be together forever and FUCK WHAT ANYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD THINKS.


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I do now have a crush on Ryan Corr and expect big things from this guy, I truly hope we also see great things from Craig Stott, his latter scenes when he got sick were remarkable and soul destroying, the nurture gene kicked in and all I wanted to do was save him, it was like reading the book all over again, but we all know at that time you couldn’t stop HIV and its destruction, it was the tragedy of inevitability that overwhelmed my emotions. And the lethal fact that Timothy believes he killed the one person he loved more than anyone else on the planet. There are no words to describe the pain that must have caused him.

On an uplifting note about the movie, the soundtrack is remarkable and a MUST BUY, it is a veritable history collection of superb tunes from the times with songs from Dragon, Bronski Beat, Rufus Wainwright, Rockmelons, Bryan Ferry, Dave Mason and Pete Shelley.


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Sadly there are two things that lose half a point from my score, do not get me wrong, this movie will be in my top 10 of the year but two things really bugged me. 1) The wigs at the beginning, I get it, they kept the same actors to play the characters through the 15yrs and it kept a sense of love and continuity that really worked, but those wigs, especially John’s at the start of the movie just didn’t work for me, I bought their love but it missed on being young love, it worked better with Timothy. Or was this just because I have always loathed the mullet? 2) The set up and opening, it moved too quick and I didn’t get it. In Timothy’s own words “On the far side of the crush I noticed a boy. I saw the body of a man with an open, gentle face: such softness within that masculinity. He was beautiful, calm. I was transfixed. He wasn’t talking, just listening to his friends with his hands in his pockets, smiling. What was it about his face? He became aware that I was looking at him and greeted me with a lift of his eyebrows. I returned the gesture and then looked away, pretending something had caught my attention. But I kept sneaking looks. It’s his eyelashes. They’re unbelievable.” Those words are everything but in the movie in these scenes John gave off nothing to indicate he was gay and this was quickly just a given that after this John was invited to a dinner party and the next week Timothy asked John to “go round with him” – god I miss that 70s/80s language. But it felt awkward and I got more out of it that Timothy was uncomfortably throwing himself at John and it worked for them but not for me.


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The truly horrendous part of this story I have saved until the end is that it is all true. On John’s deathbed he gives Timothy a tool to help him write his story, and he does, he writes this love story of epic proportions for John and to John. One month after the completion of writing the book Timothy passed away from HIV related complications. John never got to read the epic beauty of Tim’s love for him and Tim never got to see the epic love the world had for their story, nor how the world changed and is still changing (no help from our idiot PM) nor will they ever see how it has now become a beautiful movie.

In a time when change and equality is needed for Australia and the rest of the world and a time when Australia is sadly creeping back to the dark ages, this movie, if nothing else, shows how love is love regardless of your sex, sexual orientation and that the world should stand up for what is right. This country deserves the equality so people like you, me and the Tims and Johns of the world can be accepted as they are, equals in this world.

I bloody love this movie and its book from Timothy Conigrave. Director Neil Armfield (CANDY) has done a superb effort in bringing this story to the big screen, he maintained the heart of the story and gave the tale its delicate and required respect. Thank you.


4 and a Half Pops


With special thanks to TRANSMISSION FILMS to win one of the 3X Blu Rays of HOLDING THE MAN  you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage), you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:

What is your favourite gay love story and why? I have three I just worship because they are so beautiful in the telling; A BEAUTIFUL THING, JONGENS and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN – love them all.

If you do not have social media then get with the times – you can still enter, leave your entry below and email me at jking@saltypopcorn.com.au telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).

Prizes will no longer be awarded to first in first served. It will now be a game of skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges, said judges being the Salty Kernels.

The prizes will be drawn in the next two weeks and sent straight away. Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.



Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).


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