In 1984 Britain, a ragtag band of gay activists from London form an unlikely partnership with striking Welsh miners. If there is a villain in the film, it’s Margaret Thatcher, who is an unseen force apart from brief archival footage. I’m surprised it took nearly thirty years to bring this funny, affecting, and inspirational true story to the screen. The movie is sentimental, yes, but not to a fault. Most viewers, I suspect, will be as moved as I was. How can one not have an emotional response in witnessing this gay-straight alliance during an era of shamefully aggressive homophobia?
‘Pride’ has a large ensemble; it is a challenge to juggle all these characters’ stories. Most films would opt to have one character’s story be the primary arc; here, there are number of stories that unfold. A big chunk of the film focuses on how the Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) group won over their more conservative-minded allies. Corny moments abound – director Matthew Warchus offsets the weightiness of its main conflict with occasionally embarrassing humour, much of which involves the old British ladies’ blunt questions and curiosities about homosexuality.
I can’t get into a criticism I have of the film without revealing a spoiler, so at the highest possible level, I will say that ‘Pride’ should have provided a little more insight into the labour dispute. The plot rushes through its economic details. I’m also unsure as to how this group got the idea to support the miners as opposed to some other cause.
As is usually the case for movies such as this, the filmmaking style is rather straight forward – interior scenes are well-lit and the best exterior shots are of the spectacular landscape.
The title ‘Pride’ means a great deal of things for the film’s characters – pride in putting themselves out there in a hostile environment, pride in their accomplishments, pride in who they are and what they have become. By the time ‘Pride’ arrives at its emotionally draining final moments, the lump it leaves in your throat feels earned. This is a movie that believes we can be better. On the surface, we may appear to be from different universes (gender, race, sexual orientation, working-class, whatever), but we’re really not all that different, and we can use all the help we can get. By joining forces, we can make that difference. Does that seem too obvious? Well, why aren’t we doing it? QED.
Note: ‘Pride’ opens at the Varsity today (limited release). Positive word-of-mouth could push it to a wide release. I hope the movie finds an audience.