“A SILENT AGREEMENT”
Who We Are
It is so important to remember that the LGBTQ community is a rainbow of diversity and that like any other communities are members have to deal with who they are as well as where and how they fit. We have disabled LGBTQ members who deserve to be treated with the same respect as everyone else and it is good to remember that. Australian writer/director Davo Hardy takes us into our disable community with his beautiful new film, “A Silent Agreement”. Hardy cast himself as a Reuben, a sensitive writer who struggles with a speech impediment. His deaf boyfriend Derek (Joshua Sealy) gives him strategies and support to help him keep his confidence. Reuben finds the courage to submit an autobiographical screenplay to his favorite actor but is betrayed by him making Reuben use his newly-found confidence to deal with the situation and find justice.
What makes this film really unique is that both of its lead characters have disabilities. Reuben’s stutter and Joshua’s deafness are centerstage here. They are both gay, as well, are totally committed to each other and share a loving and meaningful relationship. I loved seeing two men who need each other in love and that they depend upon each other to make themselves better, like. Reuben’s lack of self-confidence and Derek’s rebelliousness come together so that each man can play off of the other and find the support he needs. Derek firmly believes that Reuben should stop worrying and just live his life and learn to use sign language in order to contain and fight combat his angst. (Another first here is the use of Australian Sign Language or Auslan).
Those of us who have no disability really have no concept of what having one is like. This film hit me hard because I have a close friend who is totally blind (and very angry). She has no friends because she is overbearing and demanding but she still needs to get groceries, etc. so I am there for her. I once spent a weekend blindfolded to try to experience what she experiences.
Most people who see this movie will not have disabilities and while they might be interested in the characters, they cannot really identify with what they are going through. They aren’t interested enough to want to experience deafness or a speech impediment. This is why I think that the scenes between Reuben and Derek are so important. We see them living natural lives with their disabilities which them seem invisible. We see them too but we focus on the persons and not on their disabilities. Davo Hardy’s wonderful direction makes this so. The performances of the two men are beautiful while at the same we see the highlight important issues.
We watch Reuben as he becomes more confident as Derek convinces him to send his screenplay off to a “down-on-his-luck yet still famous actor Gareth Donahue” (Paul Mercurio) and lives begin to change forever. Mercurio as Gareth is brilliant and if the other actors were not likewise. His performance is honest and simply gorgeous. We see him worrying about his age, weight and career and we empathize even when he does something terrible. We see both love greed and betrayal and we see brutal honesty portrayed on the screen.
This is so much more than a coming-of-age drama and not just because of the way it uses disability in our community. It is a love story that includes the need to belong, the need for redemption and the intrusion of betrayal. We see a good bit about being a victim and how that happens and why and the need to be true to oneself and the world at large. With the major theme of what makes a person unique, we come to understand more about the importance of the individual and what makes us special. I am completely in awe of Davo Hardy and can only hope that this film gets widely seen and that it gains the respect it deserves. It is already on my Top Ten List.