Film review: PRIDE, (2014)
This delightful and hilarious British film is very much in the vein of Kinky Boots and it has a great soundtrack, some terrific dance numbers and a wonderful cast of eccentric characters from two opposite extremes who come together to make something happen for the greater good and in the process learn to be open and embrace each others’ differences. The big difference here is that this actually happened. It begins in London in 1984 during a crippling national strike by the miners union against the Thatcher government. A quirky group of activists are preparing for the Gay Pride demonstration. Their energetic leader, Mark Ashton, has the idea they should distinguish themselves by lending their support to the striking miners, thereby raising the profile of both causes. Fully galvanized - they form Lesbians and Gays Support Miners (LGSM) and put all of their energy into raising funds to support the miners and speaking out on their behalf. The synergy, in the mind’s of LGSM that what both groups had in common was a lack of recognition and shoddy treatment by the government.
The only snag is that the miner’s union did not seem to see it that way and were not terribly comfortable, much less grateful, for such full-throated support from this particular group. Consequently, they were reluctant to accept the funds being so diligently raised on their behalf. Undaunted, the core group of LGSM decides they will simply pick a local chapter to receive the money. When they finally find one in South Wales willing to accept the funds, their reception is mixed, to say the least. Most of the townspeople had never even seen a gay person (or so they believed) and this was not a particularly low-key lot - with their garishly painted mini van, outrageous hairstyles, clothes and flamboyance. The reactions are often hilarious as well as deplorable.
While the LGSM group tries to fathom town’s resistance to their efforts on the miner’s behalf - the townspeople try various ways to accomodate and accept their bizarre benefactors, overcome their prejudices and gradually, by fits and starts, find aspects of common humanity in each other. There are many internal riffs between the members of each group which provides illumination into the characters’ individual personalities and back stories. They are warm and personal portraits which render the individuals’ reality, without sentiment, warts and all. Many of the incidents which provide the common ground between the groups are uproariously funny.
The film has a perfectly parenthetical ending as the LGSM gang is again preparing for the Gay Pride Parade in 1985. In the midst of the preparations and jockying for position in the parade and arguments over the allowance of political banners - to the surprize of everyone arrives a convoy of busses loaded with miners bearing banners in support of the Gays. It is a triumphant moment of huge uplift. It was a seminal moment in British social history resulting in Parliament voting to guarantee equal rights to lesbians and gays.
The excellent cast includes the always splendid, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, as a feisty Welsh Matron, Paddy Considine as the town’s union representative and Dominic West as one of the moreflambouyant gay LGSM members. They are all terrific and pitch perfect.
Review by Belle McIntyre