Film Review: Pride

‘A group of gays and lesbians from London collect money to aid a Welsh mining community on strike against the Thatcher government’ sounds like the premise of a South Park episode, but it’s actually a true story and one that’s got all the ingredients for a culture-clash comedy that will at times envelop you like a warm bubble bath.
In 1984, Margret Thatcher withdraws subsidies for coal mining and threatens to close several pits in her mission to privatise British oil, gas and coal. As a result, the National Union of Mineworkers goes on strike. Mark Ashton, gay rights activist from London, witnesses the miners’ struggle on TV and promptly decides to form a group called ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’ (LGSM).

It might seem like a weird alliance at first, but Mark Ashton sweeps any initial reservations out of the way:

“One community should give solidarity to another. It’s really illogical to say, ‘I’m gay and I’m into defending the gay community but I don’t care about anything else…'”

When the National Union of Mineworkers declines their help, concerned about getting branded with the ‘Mark of Gay’, the group simply pairs up with Onllwyn, a mining community in Wales. Nothing in this movie is as exhilarating as the stunned faces of the inhabitants upon seeing a colourful bus chugging down the muddy roads in the middle of nowhere and a gaggle of queers coming out to partake in the sponsor’s thank-you celebrations. Cultural gaps are bridged, questions about lesbian cuisine are cleared up, and throughout the film, actors such as Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Dominic West and newcomer Ben Schnetzer (The Book Thief) embody the light spirit of the movie by being absolutely charming.

Pride makes you want to believe in a world where one man’s speech inspires a woman to stand up and sing her heart out with everyone joining in. It makes you want to believe that together we can accomplish anything.

And that’s the spirit that permeates the whole film, notwithstanding the fact that the miners did not win the strike and numerous members of LGSM died of AIDS. The movie decides not to show us these dark sides with the same detail it reserves for revelling in the feats of human kindness, never stooping to sentimentality but remaining energetic, funny and dynamic.

In the end, the atmosphere is a victorious one, one of departure to even greater accomplishments. The story attempts to rise above itself and become something more: A monument to solidarity. Perhaps that’s just the kind of story we need to hear sometimes, because just like an unconventional script, change has to be believed in before it can be realised. Even after you exit the cinema, Pride will leave you with a feeling of contentment and possibly even a little more faith in humanity.

Charlotte was listening to There’s power in a Union by Billy Bragg, from the soundtrack of this movie.

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