Directed and Written by #DavoHardy
As the world keeps on spinning, eras continue to change and for all the political terror, social media fuelled panic and environmental issues of our current climate, there is hope in the shape of a wider (and ever expanding) diverse array of voices. Now more than ever before, the film industry especially seems to be opening up and widening its gaze for people of various races, ethnicities, sexualities and experiences, as blockbusters like Aquaman, Moana, Star Wars films and the upcoming Birds of Prey stand as testament of. However further steps are being taken and in A Silent Agreement fiction becomes truth in a very personal and powerful story about love, passion and the industry.
Written, edited, directed by and starring #DavoHardy, this Australian film was very timely back on its release (as the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey was at its apex) and is perhaps even more so now. After constant calls for diverse projects and debates surrounding such films, A Silent Agreement is an unapologetic story about a gay relationship, the perceptions of disability and the nature of a sometimes carnivorous industry.
The story concerns Reuben Heywood (Hardy), an aspiring stage performer and writer, whose career goals are tested by his anxiety (which has resulted in a speech impediment) and how people perceive him. However, in profoundly deaf young man Derek (#JoshuaSealy), Reuben not only finds love but a driving force that helps him reach his goals and proudly embrace who he is, even as he comes to realise that there are many barriers along the way.
Unlike many representations of homosexuality in film, A Silent Agreement is far more honest in its depictions, and it makes the central love story blossom all the more as a result. As the narrative begins to increasingly infuse facts into its fiction, this story feels real, tender and often leaves you feeling moved and rather inspired. Hardy is fantastic as Reuben, a passionate man, flawed in some ways and excellent in others, a man who has used his experience and newfound love to create the ultimate tribute to that love and seeing that tribute threatened makes the film a compelling watch. One that dissects artistic integrity, the uncomfortable transformation of diversity into a box ticking promotional tool and the age old cautionary tale about a greedy figure manipulating their way into calling the shots and taking credit owed to someone else. In this case #PaulMercurio’s genuinely hand-wringingly sleazy and liberty taking bulls**t artist Gareth Donahue.
Although the real scene stealer is Sealy’s Derek. This young man not only motivates and illuminates Reuben but by encouraging him as he learns Auslan (Australian sign language) and expands the communication, it makes for an onscreen romance that goes much deeper and becomes more special. Sealy is a bright core to this story, with a heartwarming performance that instantly draws us to his character and establishes this onscreen pairing. There is also strong supporting performances from #SageGodrei as producer Gareth’s crisis of conscience suffering wife Lillian and #RhondaRourke as Derek’s supportive mother Faye.
From great cinematography by #BebiZekirovski (a well captured bubble sequence in particular) to specifically strong uses of scoring by #JamieMurgatroyd, this really is a team effort of an enthused cast and crew (some of whom sign fluently or are part of the deaf community themselves). Everyone is clearly on the same page as to this film’s wonderful motivations. In that, actions really do speak louder than words.
Some of the story’s later developments do feel a little sudden and a family breakdown scene feels a bit spontaneous in setting up a darker change of pace but this is still a very profound tale of love, identity and to what extent artists can/should/shouldn’t alter their vision, especially when it comes from the heart.