›› Pride ‹‹

a film by Matthew Warchus.

2014 | 120 mins | UK.

a captivating exploration of how two differing communities united to support each other.

Dave says:

Set during the bitter and bloody National Union of Mineworkers strike in the summer of 1984, this compelling feature focuses on how a group of gay activists went out of their way to support a small mining community in Wales. For make no mistake, this was The Mother of All Strikes; one that under the reign of Margaret Thatcher saw families torn apart, as many a father and son found themselves on differing sides of the picket line, being forced to reluctantly return to work, so as to provide food on the table in the face of the harsh reality of a strike that went on for all too long. It was a year that saw the government use the police as a battering ram to break both the bones and the moral fortitude of men fighting to save their pit, their very livelihood and ultimately their community itself.

Yet it was also the year the saw a group of openly gay men rally to their cause, only for main man Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) to initially realize the difficulty of raising funds for striking miners within his own community, given the view held by many a gay man was - what have the miners ever done for us? Supporting the gay cause and more however, was twenty-year-old Joe 'Bromley' Cooper (George MacKay), who in taking a nervous step in his first Pride march, saw him getting more than he bargained for when he became an intergral part of a mixed bunch of gay men who through sheer hard work raised enough funds to support the miners, only to discover that no NUM branch was willing to take financial support from a group of gay men and sole girl-loving-girl, in the form of Faye Marsay as Steph. That is, until the Welsh village of Onllwyn in the Dulais valley said - yes.

So it is and indeed was, being based on a true story, that one and all set off in a mini-bus to make their donation in person. Encountering each other for the first time, community spokesman Cliff (a beautifully understated performance by Bill Nighy) was on hand to extend the customary platitudes, only for the atmosphere between the two sides to remain tense; gays on one side of the room; straights on the other, with the women of the village in the middle as a makeshift barrier between opposing sexualities. But surely that's nothing that a spot of disco dancing cannot fix? And boy, can these gay men dance!

Wondrously mixing real-life economic and political home truths with comedy - "I thought the 'L' was for London", let alone the upbeat music of the era, this captivating exploration of how two differing communities united to support each other, is frankly one of the best UK films that you're probably ever going to see. Written with remarkable insight by BAFTA Award Winner Stephen Beresford and directed with considerable charm by Matthew Warchus, this is one of those works performed by such a stellar cast, that to single out any particular actor, is almost akin to doing an injustice to the other players. Yet there are scene stealers - naturally, with Dominic West as Jonathan the flamboyant opposite of his more reserved partner Gethin (Andrew Scott); namely a man who gradually learns to reconnect with his Welsh roots. Equally on fine form are Joseph Gilgun as 'out with clout' Mike Jackson, Jessica Gunning as gay-friendly and dance-loving Sian James and Paddy Considine as Dai Donovan; aka the unofficial diplomat of the mining community. Yet the star of the show remains Imelda Staunton as Hefina; namely the matriarch wise enough to realize how both sides have faced the wrath of Thatcherism and her law enforcing bloodhounds and in that, more than understand how the other party feels and here let us not forget that this was the period of the hideous Clause 28 that became as embarrassing for the Tories, as it was offensive to us.

Only this was also the time of the rise of AIDS and here Schnetzer delivers a strikingly poignant portrayal of a young man whose jovial appearance masks the reality of sadly, many a dark day ahead of him. Frankly, there's an awful lot going on in this film; from scenes of outright prejudice and homophobia, to those that show the outstretched hand of friendship and unity, to that of many a personal journey, including coming out. Yet and in spite of all of the political and social "coal, not dole" statements to be found, the 'roles reversed' ending is such a crowd-pleaser, that it's impossible not to have a smile on your face when the closing credits roll. Above all however, this is a deeply moving lesson on compassion for your fellow man. Simply outstanding.

›› available as part of the 20th CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT catalogue: 17th April, 2019 / UK.
›› revised: Thursday, 7th April, 2022.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 5 stars

›› copyright © 2022 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com ‹‹
›› archive reference #2021002 - revised ‹‹
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