There’s nothing quite as lazy as reviewing a Brit-flick to be the new Billy Elliot or the new Full Monty, but here I go doing it anyway, because like its much heralded predecessors, Pride is a perfect slice of that thing we Brits do best. Set in 1984 and based on the remarkable true story of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign and its effect on one small Welsh mining town, Pride is equal parts uproarious and touching, with a true respect paid by the filmmakers to a very bleak part of Britain’s history.
Seen through the eyes of yet-to-come-out Joe (George MacKay), the film charts the movement from its early formation as the brain child of activist Mark (Ben Schnetzer), who is quick to correlate the treatment of gays with the treatment of miners in Thatcher’s Britain. What follows is an uneasy journey (many of Mark’s friends are quick to dismiss the movement due to their own experiences with miners) from the Gay’s The Word book shop in London to the Dulais valley in Wales, where Uncle Bryn-like Dai (Paddy Considine) is paramount in welcoming his new friends to the community.
Boasting an excellent cast list (I no longer trust a British film if it doesn’t contain Bill Nighy), Pride excellently weaves in and out of the lives of its whole ensemble, so it’s hard not to care about each and every one of them, whether it’s “gobby northern lesbian” Steph (Faye Marsey) whose opening line of “She broke my heart at a Smiths concert” sounds like a Smiths song in itself, Gwen (Menna Trussler) with her rallying cry of “where are my lesbians?” or shy Welsh Gethin (Andrew Scott) who struggles with the journey back to his homeland in the wake of his life as an openly gay man in London.
Pride is that remarkable kind of film that manages to acknowledge the injustices of its characters without cheapening the film with sentimentality, preachiness or forced scenarios, a feat for any film based on a true story. Alright, there is a scene where Dominic West’s theatre luvvy Jonathan wins over the miners’ social club with his sweet dance moves, but the history books will never be able to convince me that didn’t happen. And with a soundtrack as perfect as Pride‘s it’s hard to resist displays of such blatant showboating.
As I write this review of this stunningly crafted film, the news has broken that Pride has received an unwarranted R rating in the States. It really is a shame. Pride not only contains no sex or violence, it teaches the strength of friendship and the damage of prejudice. It’s also down right entertaining, and there’s not a single part of that that should be restricted to audiences.