Pride (2014) ☆☆☆1/2(3.5/4) : Together they stood

pride02 “Pride” is a crowd-pleasing comedy film inspired by a real-life story of one unlikely alliance between two social groups who could not possibly be more different from each other. There seemed to be nothing common between these two groups at all while they were mostly separated by prejudices, but, as one supported the other, the gap between them became narrower than before, and they eventually stood together for each other as depicted in the film.

The year is 1984, and it was the time when British miners went through a long strike against Margaret Thatcher and her drastic labor policy which threatened their living at that time. Constantly cornered and pressured by the British government, the miners on the strike received some supports at least during those difficult days, and one of their notable supporters was, surprise, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community in UK.

The idea of the LGBT community supporting miners comes from Mark Ashton (Ben Shcnetzer), a young, passionate gay rights activist who sees one possibility for promoting their social agenda during the 1984 Lesbian and Gay Pride March held in London. After noticing that people pay more attention when he and others try to collect the money for supporting miners, he suggests to his fellow LGBT community members that they should support the ongoing miners’ strike in public, and he and a number of his close friends soon begin the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign.

Of course, their support is not received well at first mainly because of common prejudices against them, but then they eventually make a direct contact with the strikers of Onllwyn, a small mining town in Wales. Dai Donovan (Paddy Considine) comes to London to show the gratitude from him and others in Onllwyn, and then Mark and his colleagues are invited to Onllwyn for directly showing their support of miners.

pride05 Not so surprisingly, their arrival is not welcomed by everyone in the town, but they are greeted by several town people including Hefina (Imelda Staunton), Siân (Jessica Gunning), and Cliff (Bill Nighy, who is unusually more dialed down than before), and it does not take much time for other town people to get a little closer to Mark and his homosexual colleagues as appreciating their big support. While most ladies in the town get along pretty well with their unusual visitors thanks to music and dance, the miners in the town slowly begin to show grudging recognition as getting help from them in more than one ways. When the miners are arrested by the police at one point, they are quickly released thanks to a useful legal tip from Jonathan (Dominic West, who has never been as scene-stealing as this), who knows one or two things about handling the police because of his personal experience. This flamboyant gay guy also gives one hell of dance performance at the town hall which dazzles and enthralls almost everyone at the town hall, and a couple of town lads later get a good lesson from him on how to attract women in a sexier way (and it indeed works for them).

Although some town people still look at Mark’s group with disdain and disgust, the bond between Mark’s group and the town people is further solidified through more mutual interactions between them. Hefina and other town ladies are later invited to spend some time in London, and we are confirmed again that ladies know better in case of having a real good fun. As looking around several gay nightclubs, they are certainly surprised by many unusual things they have never encountered before, but they respond to all those sexual sights with good humor anyway, and we get a small amusing moment when two ladies ask a very practical question to a bartender in tight leather suit.

pride07 While not pushing the plot too hard, the screenplay by Stephen Beresford sometimes goes into a more serious mood as observing the social difficulties its homosexual characters have to endure just because of their different sexuality. In case of Joe Cooper (George MacKay), this young man has been hiding his homosexuality from his conservative family, but then he begins to come out of the closet step by step as actively working with Mark and other fellow LGBT members for supporting miners. He was initially quite reluctant to show who he is in front of others, but he gradually realizes what he should do for himself, and then there comes an expected moment when he has to make a crucial decision for his life.

The director Matthew Warchus assembled a fabulous cast consisting of various performers who play well with each other in their nice ensemble work. While Imelda Staunton is the most colorful as a feisty middle-aged lady who becomes the strongest defender of Mark’s group, Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, and Paddy Considine humbly step back for their more colorful co-performers, and Dominic West has a poignant moment which reflects a certain medical problem spread among LGBT people during the 1980s. Although they are less well-known compared to the actors mentioned above, the younger actors in the film including Ben Schnetzer, and George MacKay fill their characters with enough youthful energy as required, and Jessica Gunning is notable as a young town housewife who becomes far more politically active than before through her experience with the strike as well as her special friends.

As some of you may know, the British miners’ strike was ultimately ended with bitter notes in 1985, but the final scene of “Pride” powerfully reminds us of what was gained in spite of that defeat, and that moving moment will probably make you think a lot about that valuable solidarity among the weak, which is still a relevant matter in these days as before. It is always touching to watch a genuine act of human decency in movies, and “Pride”, which won the Queer Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival in last year, is surely a very good case of that while being a wonderful movie packed with lots of human comedy and drama to be appreciated by any audiences.


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