Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published October 28th 2014
There is power in a union
Director: Matthew Warchus (Simpatico) Cast: George MacKay, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, Dominic West
Margaret Thatcher accidentally caused a huge renaissance in the British film industry during her reign as Prime Minister. She was not a fan of cinema or the arts in general, but her policies compelled a generation of angry filmmakers to inject new life into a flagging industry. From the films of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach in the 80s, through to The Full Monty and Brassed Off in the 90s, there's been a rich vein of anti-Thatcher social commentary on the big screen. Decades on and beyond the grave, her legacy lives on with Pride, which depicts an inspiring story set during one of the darkest chapters of her time in power.
Steph (Faye Marsay), Joe (George MacKay), Mike (Joseph Gilgun) and Dai (Paddy Considine). Lesbians, gays and miners unite.
The film is set during the infamous year-long miners' strike of the 1980s. While the miners stood firm for their cause, a small group of gay activists, who themselves had felt the brunt of the conservative government, began a campaign to support the families affected by the strike.
We've come a long way in 30 years, but back then, the support of a gay and lesbian group was not something a lot of small town, blue collar workers felt comfortable about.
Early on in the story, a Welsh miner, Dai (Paddy Considine), addresses the patrons of a gay night club. He uses humour to break the ice and immediately he has the crowd on his side. Similarly, first time screenwriter Stephen Beresford uses the typically British trait of employing comedy to deliver his agenda.
Gwen (Manna Trussler), Hefina (Imelda Staunton) and Jonathan (Dominic Cooper) disco like it's 1984
What could have been a didactic exercise in left-wing politics is instead a feel-good comedy/drama which celebrates the good in people. While the film does concern itself with people's prejudices being challenged, the clash of cultures is mostly played for laughs. The most memorable scenes centre on a group of older women in a Welsh town who find a sense of liberation in bonding with their new-found gay friends. Imelda Staunton in particular, as the outspoken Hefina, is a real treat to watch.
There's also one of the best coming out scenes you're likely to see. No cliches, none of the usual emotions or lines you'd expect, just a few slices of bread being buttered and perfect delivery by two great actors.
On the surface this may look like its straight from the mould of Billy Elliot, Bend It Like Beckham et al, comedies about the working classes rising above adversity and the establishment, but Pride strays from the formula just enough to stand on its own terms. It's not so much about the little guy bucking the system, but about diverse communities forming an unlikely bond.
Saw it last night and agree with your star rating. Overall, a pretty easy movie to watch; as you say a feel good movie. If I was to be super-critical, I'd say there was perhaps a little much stereotyping: well built, nicely dressed gay men (for the most part), singing Welsh... and Bill Nighy being Bill Nighy. Oh, and the (nasty) miner's widow who looked like she'd come out of Nazi Germany :)