13 September 2014
Stephen Beresford's script takes place in 1984 and follows the true story of the formation of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, (LGSM) a group of young activists who notice that the striking miners are now enduring a similar kind of police brutality to which they've become accustomed. Led by the irrepressible Mark, the group treks to the Welsh mining village of Onllwyn to throw their support behind the locals and help them through the bleak midwinter inflicted by Margaret Thatcher's government.
After the tepid hagiography of The Iron Lady, we were due a film like Pride and it's all the more gratifying that it's not just a po-faced retort. Phyllida Lloyd's film only looked more monumental for trying to humanise its central figure with a misguided dementia subplot, while reducing her opponents and detractors to cartoon misogynists or stock footage. On the contrary, Beresford and director Matthew Warchus find more than just humanity here. Instead, they mine an endless reserve of good humour and elevate the story on high.
There is a clear generational gap in the cast, which actually benefits the film enormously. Stars like Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Paddy Considine may top the bill, but they're effectively holding up the springboard for new talent amongst the less familiar cast of LGSM. Young'uns like MacKay and Joseph Gilgun continue their rise to stardom here, but there are revelatory and erstwhile turns from Ben Schnetzer and Faye Marsay. Nighy et al are excellent as a matter of course, but watching the young cast is like looking into the future of British cinema. Everybody ups everyone else's game and anyone in this film who isn't already a star, is almost certainly going to be.
As clichéd as it may be to say so, this is one of those films that makes you laugh and makes you cry, with neither detracting from the remarkable togetherness of its tone. The couple played by Andrew Scott and Dominic West form a good example of the equilibrium- West is incredibly charismatic as an extroverted luvvy, while Scott outwardly has more conflict to face. We see different sides of each of them as the film progresses and they're just two out of a huge cast of completely rounded characters. It's never wry or arch and it only really comes up short when it takes on an aspect of gay culture in the 1980s to which there is no funny answer.
Pride is now showing at cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Pride, why not share your comments below? If not, be sure to take along a Bill Nighy Bingo card when you do- between awkward pausing, snorty laughing and bloody brilliance, you'll get at least a line.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.