Movie Review: Pride

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A group of gay and lesbian activists in London have their lives changed when they decide to support the striking miners from a small Welsh town in 1984.

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Matthew Warchus, 2014

It’s 1984. Margaret Thatcher is Prime Minister of England, the AIDS epidemic is at peak fear factor, and the miners of Britain are on strike. In London, the outspoken Mark (Ben Schnetzer) is looking for his next cause. He sees a kinship in the striking miners, and starts a group called Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners to raise money for them. When his efforts are met with rejection, he decides to send all the money to one town: Onllwyn, in Wales, where a mix-up about the group’s name causes their money to be accepted. A tentative alliance is struck, with LGSM visiting Onllwyn, to some trepidation. With the help of town leader Dai (Paddy Considine) and outspoken newcomer Sian (Jessica Gunning), the town becomes more accepting, and new friendships are formed.

pride

England has a long and proud history of making super cute movies about down-and-out blue collar workers. Pride is following in the footsteps of gently inspirational movies like The Full Monty, Billy Elliot, and Brassed Off. There’s a buoyancy to Pride that allows it some more dramatic moments that don’t drag the film down, but make the upbeat finale feel earned instead. There is a sense of oversimplification between the supporters of the gay group vs. their detractors, but it doesn’t distract too much from the film’s message. And it is very much a message film, about acceptance and support of one another to overcome obstacles. It’s not terribly subtle, but it’s fun and frothy and sweet. There are dance scenes and hugs and a low before a nice big high and it’s very nicely crafted. The film’s muted tones and 80s setting are used to good effect, creating a warm, nostalgic aesthetic without buying into the 80s excess too much.

There are, in a sense, two central characters in Pride, but it’s American Ben Schnetzer as Brit Mark who easily steals the show from George MacKay’s Joe, who is just entering the gay scene when we meet him. Schnetzer delivers a powerhouse performance, the fire in his eyes tempered by Mark’s intensity and a hint of darkness. Also terrific are the adorable Jessica Gunning as Sian, whose outspoken intelligence paves the way for the friendship between LGSM and Onllwyn, and Sherlock’s Andrew Scott as the Welsh outcast Gethin. Dominic West and Imelda Staunton are having fun as the flamboyant HIV-positive Jonathan (“when you flamboyance, you mean gay, and when you say people, you mean me” is a great moment) and cheerful miners’ mum Hefina. Also, I never found Paddy Considine attractive before this film, but he’s lovely in this. It’s a film with a big (all white) ensemble cast that gives all its members their moment, and some of the actors take great advantage of that, while others miss their moment. Overall, Pride is a pleasant, fun film to watch.

Pride on IMDb

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