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Film Review: Pride

“Pride” tells the story of radicals, reactionaries, successes and failures. It’s a warm, human reflection on both the great British miners’ strike of the Thatcher era, and the emergence of the contemporary LGBT movement, uniting against the odds against the forces of reaction and misery.

 

The story begins with Mark; a young, gay, Irish radical, played with shiny-eyed belligerence by Ben Schnetzer, finding common cause between the oppressed miners of England and Wales, and the oppressed sexual minorities of Britain. Similarly plagued by a press which seeks to vilify them and a police force to brutalise them, Mark sees the intersections of oppression as they apply to these seemingly different communities, and is inspired to unite and resist. His proposed alliance between the Lesbian and Gay community and the striking miners does not, however, go over as smoothly as he hopes. A reluctant LGBT community and a fearful and reactionary attitude among the mining communities and unions makes the alliance seem unlikely.

 

Despite their adversities, the “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” group makes contact with a Welsh mining community who ultimately choose to accept their solidarity. The story blossoms from this point, touching on prejudice, oppression, friendship and revolt. The film’s politics are writ large, unapologetic and joyous. The performances are impressive, if occasionally drifting into one-dimensionality in some of the less well-developed characters.

 

Worth mentioning in particular is the film’s perspective on gender, and it passes the Bechdel test with flying colours. Imelda Staunton renders a powerful performance as a Welsh woman struggling to unite and sustain the resistance of her community against the destruction being visited on it by the Thatcher government. Faye Marsay turns in a thoughtful and sensitive performance as Steph, the only woman in the LGSM group; an outsider among the outsiders. Jessica Gunning is fierce as Sian, a dedicated fighter for the mining community of which she is a member, battling with ferocity for the dignity being stolen from her people.

 

Bill Nighy’s performance deserves a particular mention. His is a warm, physical performance, relying on nuanced looks and gestures as much as dialogue to express itself. On the screen, his character speaks of a dignity and a calmness that is affecting and reassuring. Ultimately, the film is a warm and uplifting celebration of communities in struggle, and at the beating heart of the story is the simple message of self-respect and defiance represented by its single-word title: Pride. A pride that can’t be killed by police, by reactionary press, even by defeat. A must-see, catch it while you have a chance.

 

D. Matthew Warchus
W. Stephen Beresford
120 mins
rating: 15a

 

Brian Mac an Earraigh
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