Saturday Morning Documentary at the Queer Film Festival: Holding Hands

15 08 2010

I was sad when I realized I would be missing my Saturday Morning Documentary since I had to journey to UBC to do a study, petting this furry robotic creature.  Then I realized after that I had planned to see a documentary today, and why not have it be my film? (even if it’s in the afternoon)  Oh, and I’ve altered slightly how I review things after minutes of consideration.

Holding Hands

Synopsis: Shane and Craig are a gay couple living in Australia.  One night, they get jumped by some men on the street and Craig is pretty badly hurt, having taken his face stepped on by one of the men.  The film chronicles their fight to change the police department in Sydney, Craig’s numerous operations, and the relationship between the two lovers over the next few months.

Super awesome things: If you’re expecting a tear-jerker, you’ll get it.  Quite possibly the most devastating and upsetting quote from Craig is when he explains what happened after he was bashed and taken to the hospital: he calls his family up, all bloodied, and asks his mom if she’ll come see him in the hospital (the family lives in a small town nearby).  She says no, that it’s too far and too late.  He says Shane will go and pick her/them up.  She refuses again, and says how disappointed they are in him, for being gay and how badly they have embarrassed them and their family name.  She tells him it was selfish to tell them about his sexuality.

His own mother refused to go to the hospital to see her own son after he was beaten and required surgery.  Wow.  I can’t believe that.  And this happened in 2007, so it’s not like some era of Neanderthals (well, apparently there still are some).  Though I couldn’t see beside me, I could hear the woman sitting on my right crying.  And of course, I was tearing up too, and I couldn’t help but wonder if my mom would come see me in the hospital if I was nearly dying.

Anyway.  Back to the film.  Holding Hands shows the couple’s fight against the police system, how they allegedly tell Craig that it would take a death for them to actually investigate hate crimes (ie. the little people versus the big, powerful people is always a winning formula).  Also well-done is how they show the couple’s relationship, how comfortable they seem in front of the camera and how happy they are.  The grainy re-enactment scene using Super 8 (I think?) film is also effective in capturing that fateful night and showing the grittiness.  Shane and Craig also = super cute couple!  🙂

Not so super awesome things: The first two thirds are very good, very absorbing, and emotional.  The last third focuses more on Craig’s multiple surgeries and how the relationship between Shane and Craig change, which isn’t necessarily bad or boring, but I thought the main point was about changing the system and finding the guys who did this to them.  Yes, their relationship goes up and down after and going to hospital for yet another surgery is definitely harrowing, but the cause of all this was those bashers, and at the end of the film, *spoilers!* because there’s no update on what happened to their case, I don’t even remember what the last point was about it.  I also thought some bits, such as Craig explaning his family’s religious background, could have been moved to the beginning rather than in the middle of the film, and I also wanted to know a little more about Shane’s family and their reaction when they found out their son was gay.  A little more of that humanity that people can relate to.

Overall:  A good look at how unresponsive police forces not just in Australia but most likely in many other parts of the world can be.

Grade: B