Pride

Pride photo starrating-4stars.jpg“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is an old proverb that can be traced back to a concept that has been around since at least the 4th century BC. The sentiment is particularly apropos with Pride, a feel-good drama about a group of gay and lesbian activists who join forces with the miners during the lengthy Mineworkers strike that began in the summer of 1984.

But first a little history. Our tale is set in the UK during the Margaret Thatcher era government.  The conservative Prime Minister was intent on free market reform at the expense of unions. Rising tensions between the two sides was exacerbated when the administration announced on March 6,1984 their intention to close 20 coal mines or “pits“. The British coal industry ultimately decided to strike led by the National Union of Mineworkers. The government subsequently seized all union funds, making official donations to the NUM impossible. The necessity for a more grassroots campaign was required. Sensing a common threat, an alliance of lesbians and gay men (LGSM) rose up to raise money to support the striking miners and their families. The NUM was reluctant to receive help from the group and so a faction of London activists decided to take their donations directly to Dulais, a small mining village in Wales. This is their story.

A hand picked ensemble acts this earnest saga with real heart. Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) is a charismatic young lad who galvanizes his reformist friends to back the working class strikers by making a connection between the oppression felt by the miners with that of the gays and lesbians under the current political climate. Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy and Paddy Considine represent the traditional families in the Welsh mining town. Dominic West, Fay Marsay and George MacKay are the liberal activists in the LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) coalition. These diverse groups are thoughtfully represented by a colorful cast. Everyone makes an impression. Veteran thespians Staunton as a stern but understanding matriarch and Nighy as the miners’ shy treasurer, are especially memorable. Despite a fairly large assemblage of speaking parts, the characters are clearly delineated individuals with unique personalities. There are a lot of plot threads, but the production handles them with interest so each one seems necessary to the overall picture. It makes the implausible accord that actually happened seem like the most logical association in the world. Politics makes strange bedfellows, as they say.

Pride is an uplifting heartfelt film constructed to appeal to the masses in the most entertaining way.  Tony Award-winning director and dramatist Matthew Warchus (God of Carnage) directs from a script by Stephen Beresford. It simplifies in the clearest possible approach to present a feel good tale that effectively manipulates the emotions. By focusing the struggle on a small, but distinct circle of people, the audience can connect to the intimate human drama that played out in the much larger public arena. The lightness of tone when dealing with heavy issues is appreciated. In the process it sidesteps the pitfalls that could’ve made this account preachy or didactic. This might alienate some seeking more hard hitting controversy, but the script fashions a narrative much in the way a powerful sports movie works. It creates a David and Goliath story and invites you to cheer for the underdog.

10-01-14

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10 Responses to “Pride”

  1. I’ve heard really good things about Pride from various reviews here in the UK and this confirms it is a must-see. The plot seems similar to Made in Dagenham (a really enjoyable film if you haven’t seen it), which deals with different circumstances in the same era and also Brassed Off which is a terrific tragi-comedy, looking at the aftermath of Thatcher’s policies towards the unions and coal miners. Great review, Mark.

    • How did I see this film before you? Ha ha. The British have such a way with feel good films like this. Billy Elliot and The Full Monty are other examples. This is definitely in the same vein. Go see it now!

  2. Karina Camacho Says:

    It is a must see! Such a fantastic and heartwarming film. I felt the heart of the actors as they portrayed real people and what they had to endure during that time. This film had be in tears by the end. To me this is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Bravo!

  3. I LOVED every second of this film and cried like a baby in it. Although I have to point out that Staunton and Nighy’s characters weren’t married. They were best friends. She’s married to the other elderly gentleman.

  4. This is one of those movies I fall for. Fun and emotional. I pretty much knew after seeing the trailer, that this film would be simple, manipulative and uplifting. All the things I like. Acting was very good too. 4 1/2 stars.

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