Watch Holding the Man
- 2 hr 8 min
In 1993, Timothy Conigrave (Ryan Corr) is in Lipari, Italy, and he calls his childhood friend Pepe Trevor (Sarah Snook) on a payphone in a panic, asking her where his deceased partner John Caleo (Craig Stott) was sitting at a dinner party they had together when they were teenagers. The time expires before Pepe can tell him. Later, a concierge at the hotel Tim is staying at passes on a message from Pepe to Tim. In 1977, Tim and John are students at Xavier College in Melbourne, Australia. They have geography together. Tim falls in love with John, and invites him to the school play of Romeo and Juliet, where Tim is playing the role of Paris, but John doesn't make it. Tim invites John to a dinner party with Pepe and some of their friends from Drama class, and they pass a kiss around the table. Tim later asks John out and he accepts. Initially John isn't comfortable with doing anything sexual with Tim, who writes a letter to John apologising for reaching into his trousers whilst making out after school. The letter is intercepted by their Geography teacher who tells them all the staff already know about their relationship, and advises them to be careful. Whilst on a study break, Tim and John are caught having sex by their school friends. They all later go streaking. When Tim returns home, his parents Dick (Guy Pearce) and Mary Gert (Kerry Fox) tell him John's father Bob (Anthony LaPaglia) found Tim's letter and threatens court action if Tim refuses to keep his distance. Tim angrily leaves and rides his bike to John's house, where he overhears Bob tell John that his mother Lois (Camilla Ah Kin) will make an appointment for his son to see a psychologist. Tim and John flee together. In 1985, Tim interviews a HIV patient called Richard for a play he is writing. Later, Tim and John both go to the doctor for an HIV test. John is given a negative result, but Tim is given a positive result. Their doctor (Mitchell Butel) then reveals there was a filing mistake and both Tim and John are actually HIV positive. In 1979, Tim and John are students at Monash University are are part of a Gay Rights Activism Club. At John's house one day, John tells Tim "I want you inside me." Before they can officially consummate their relationship, John's family arrives and catches them trying to sneak out. John stands up to his father and the boys drive off and engage in a brief and humorous session of anal intercourse. Tim and John move out of their homes and get their own place. Tim becomes flirtatious with other men he and John spend time with, and starts cheating on John when he doesn't support Tim's request that they try having sex with other people. Tim reveals to John he put his name down to audition for NIDA and asks that they have a trial separation while Tim is in Sydney. Tim returns to Melbourne and reveals he got in. He moves to Sydney for NIDA and has his classes under the instruction of his teacher Barry (Geoffrey Rush), and they clash during a rehearsal for A Streetcar Named Desire. Meanwhile, Tim has sex with boys from his class and goes to a gay sauna. During a performance of Private Lives, Tim sees John in the audience and stumbles on a line ("I want you back, John"). They reconcile and resume their relationship when John decides to move to Sydney. In 1988, whilst in Melbourne for his sister's Wedding, Tim is contacted by the Red Cross and is told that the blood that he donated in 1981 was given to a patient who has gone on to develop AIDS. In 1991, John's condition gets worse and he is frequently in the hospital. Tim starts to notice his own condition is slowly deteriorating and collapses while looking after John in the hospital. He has a manic episode after a swelling in his brain occurs and a doctor recommends he be admitted. Bob visits them to discuss John's will and is upset that all of John's possessions will go to Tim when he dies. They negotiate and it is revealed that Bob has been telling people John has cancer, not AIDS. John is well enough to return home and he and Tim make love. They go home to Melbourne for Christmas and John collapses while decorating the Christmas Tree. John is re-admitted. Whilst exchanging Christmas presents, John confesses to Tim he was close to death and it felt so easy to let go, which deeply upsets Tim. On January 26th, 1992, Father Woods (Paul Goddard) approaches Tim while at the hospital and tells him he will include Tim during the funeral and refer to him as John's friend so as to not further alienate John's family. Tim angrily tells him that they've been together for 15 years and that John is his "husband." John dies shortly after and the funeral is held with students from Xavier College. The film returns to the beginning, and Pepe phones Tim's hotel. We see the note from earlier says "He was beside you." Whilst on his travels in Italy, Tim narrates a letter he writes to John. The film closes with Tim sitting in a hospital room. Nearby is a document holder John gave him to write on for Christmas. The film tells the audience Tim completed his memoir (Holding the Man) in October of 1994 and succumbed to his AIDS ten days later at the age of 34. In a post-credits bonus, an excerpt from an interview of the real Tim Conigrave shortly before he died plays while a picture of John and Tim as teenagers is shown.