Directed by Matthew Warchus.
Starring Bill Nighy, Dominic West, Paddy Considine, Andrew Scott, Ben Schnetzer, Imelda Staunton, Joseph Gilgun and George MacKay.
Set against the backdrop of the 1984 miner’s strike. A group of people come together to form the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. Some embrace them whereas others let their prejudices take over.
It’s been a while since a British comedy has ticked every box; from comedy to drama, politics, romance et al but Pride does just that. We begin at the Gay Pride festival of 1984 with closeted youngster Joe (MacKay) joining the march and mixing with the free spirited and politically motivated gay and lesbian scene. We are then transported to a party and the adventure begins when we meet the leader of the group Mark (Ben Schnetzer). And so the campaign to support the miners begins and we wind up in a tiny Welsh village in the mid 1980s where homosexuality is considered shameful and disgusting. What could have been a drab “message movie” is instead a fun filled laughter fest with tons of drama and a few tears by the end.
Pride is such a successful film because of its characters and its heart. There is never a moment in the film where a character or a situation doesn’t feel genuine and it’s wonderfully crafted. True there are a few “Hollywoodesque” moments that crop up including when miners befriend Dominic West’s eccentric Jonathan in order for him to teach them to dance and win girls. But the film is charming throughout. The subject matter of this film is dark to say the least but it’s balanced well.. Images of the riots, the mistreatment of the miners, the hate of Thatcher is littered throughout; but the film never feels preachy. It instead feels like a faithful telling of a story that many are unfamiliar with.
Standouts from the cast included the terrific Dominic West as ex-panto lead Jonathan. A dance sequence at the men’s club was hilarious, but there was a lot of heart between his character and his partner Gethin (Andrew Scott). Scott’s character has a subtle story arch of the prejudices againsthomosexuals in that era. He’s not on screen that much but the anguish of rejection for his sexuality feels all too familiar in this day and age. The writer of Pride Stephen Beresford hasn’t laboured the point and this makes it tremendously effective. Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton are superb as two welcoming villagers who offer a great deal of laughs and a couple of touching moments. Relative newcomer Jessica Gunning delights as miner’s wife Sian and there’s so many layers to her performance that we root for her throughout the whole film.
Some of the other characters are a little underused including Joseph Gilgun as Mike, Paddy Considine as Dai, and Freddie Fox’s Jeff. But at 120 minutes long, it’s understandable that there had to be some trimming along the way. Although it’s not detrimental to the story, some further explanation around these characters and their previous relationships would have been nice.
The tensions of the era are represented well throughout the film. The prejudices that we can imagine at the time are fully realised. George MacKay’s performance as Joe is a triumph and we’re with him every step of the way in his story to acceptance. The miner’s themselves are not brutalised for their prejudice views, instead Pride is more about the education and the understanding of the LGBT community. Writer Beresford also touches on the AIDS crisis but does not make it the focal point of the film. It addresses the issue in such a subtle way that as you watch the events unfold you can’t help but wonder how many of the real life people made it through the crisis.
Pride is a truly special film about the victories in life and one that will be remembered for years to come for its performances, but more for its heart and memorable story.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★