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Non-Review Review: Pride

Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners is an oft over-looked chapter in the history both the labour and the gay rights movement. Based around the fundamental principle that oppressed groups have a great chance of achieving their goals standing side-by-side (or shoulder-to-shoulder) than they would ever would apart, the alliance forged during the 1984 coal strikes went on to have a lasting and important influence on both the mining community and the gay community.

Pride is perhaps a little bit too whimsical and twee for its own good, going for any number of easy feel-good smiles and affectionate chuckles, but there’s something quite compelling about this tale of two different groups forging an unexpected and unprecedented alliance in pursuit of a common good. Pride is a light and charming “opposites unit” story with enough wit and soul to win over even the most cynical audience members.

Labour of love...

Labour of love…

Pride doesn’t do anything particularly unexpected. Most of the character arcs come mapped out from the moment the characters appear on-screen. Centring on the story of a young gay man who gets swept up in this unlikely movement, Pride hits all the necessary plot beats for a coming of age tale, particularly one about sexual identity. It is quite clear what many of the plot points and character moments are building towards, with all the expected conflicts and clashes along the way.

Writer Stephen Beresford deserves a great deal of credit for constructing a script that hues close enough to the historical record while still working as an engaging and charming narrative in its own right. Pride is very much constructed as a charming heart-warming tale, a glimpse at a moment in British labour history that is often overlooked or ignored. Beresford manages to capture the mood of the moment beautifully and elegantly, without ever feeling like he’s forcing the issue.

Go, West!

Go, West!

To be fair, a lot of Pride is telegraphed ahead of time. It’s quite clear early on that all the opposition to the support from the gay community is going to come from one single household in the featured Welsh mining village. Indeed, it is also quite clear that a lot of the opposition is going to come from one single individual who fits every cliché and character trait expected from a moral crusader in a film like this. However, that’s not the point. That is not where Pride succeeds.

It is the little things that work particularly well. Pride is informed by the experience of gays and lesbians in the eighties, without being sensationalist. Rather than wallowing in grand gestures of prejudice and oppression – although there were enough of those, and sadly still are – Pride captures a sense of the day-to-day life inside London’s gay community in the eighties. It isn’t all great, and it isn’t all terrible; it is a group of people who have learned to get by even when facing hatred and contempt.



Pride presents a world where wiping homophobic graffiti off the front of a gay business is something so routine it happens in the background of a scene without anybody passing comment; it’s a world where nobody needs to elaborate why you don’t go fund-raising alone; it’s a world where everybody just accepts the double-standards imposed on people because of their orientation. However, as much as Pride is about these realities, it is also a story about a community that refuses to be defined by them.

Shrewdly, Pride doesn’t wallow in this day-to-day oppression. Instead, it celebrate the strength and charm of the community that did come together to do extraordinary things. Pride is charming and witty, clever and funny. It is a very familiar “fish out of water” story, but one that has the benefit of taking two very different fish out of two very different bodies of water. The sight of disco dancing in a Welsh mining village is as incongruous as the image of Welsh miners nightclubbing in London.

Buckets of charm...

Buckets of charm…

The material is elevated by a superb ensemble of fantastic performers. Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine and Imealda Staunton offer warmth and charm to a Welsh mining village that could easily be stock clichés. Similarly, Dominic West and Andrew Scott provide two very fully-formed and fleshed out members of the unlikely allies. Pride has drawn together a remarkable ensemble, who add a lot of energy to the film and breath life into a large cast of characters.

However, despite the billing on the posters (and in the opening credits), it is mostly the trio of Ben Schnetzer, George MacKay and Faye Marsay who carry the film. All three acquit themselves well, particularly given the fact that the two male leads are navigating fairly familiar character arcs. Particular credit going to Faye Marsay as the group’s lone lesbian Steph, who manages to take a somewhat under-developed character and hold her own amidst a fantastic collection of performers.

Marching under the same banner...

Marching under the same banner…

Pride is a delight. It is, if one will pardon the pun, an absolute pride.

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