13 September 2014

Pride Review

Sometimes you get a film that comes out of nowhere and ends up being one of the best films of the year, Pride is one of those films. This is a film I only heard about a few weeks ago but is probably one of the most important, funny, heartwarming and hopeful films that has been released this year and a great show of the power of solidarity (which is brilliantly summed up by Owen Jones in his article in The Guardian).
The film focuses on the efforts of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) a group set up by gay activists in 1984 to raise money for mining communities due to the feeling that the miners were suffering the same level of discrimination that gays were. Since the miners union were unwilling to accept the funds from LGSM, the group went to a mining town directly to hand over the money, settling on a town in South Wales. Over the course of the film, we see the efforts of LGSM to gain the acceptance of the mining town and the increasing show of solidarity between the miners and the gay community. This is a film that could have become a serious drama but the film takes the opposite approach, becoming more of a lighthearted comedy with some serious elements thrown in and this was the right direction for the film to take. This tone creates this great sense of hope and joy throughout the course of the film that is really heartwarming to see and this tone helps us see the growing acceptance of the gay community by the miners in a way that feels really natural. However, as stated, this lighthearted tone doesn't dilute the issues of the time. We see the levels of discrimination that the miners and the gay community received from the media and the police, with newspaper articles from the time showing discrimination being shown, in particular The Sun's Pits and Perverts story. We also see the impact that AIDS is having in the gay community, the fear over contracting the disease and the widespread attitude amongst the population that only gay people could contract the disease. All of these scenes help make the lighter, more heartwarming scenes all the more effective as we see how much hope has been given to these people. The central idea of the film though is that of solidarity, that people need to unite with each other in order to weather anything and this is an idea that the film brings across brilliantly, showing how solidarity brought together two groups of people who otherwise would never have acknowledged each other.

The acting in the film is uniformly excellent. One of the big standouts is Ben Schnetzer as Mark, the founder of LGSM who brilliantly shows his passion for solidarity and his belief that the miners need as much help as possible, along with having a great sense of humour throughout the film. At the end though he takes a darker turn as we find out something about his character which causes him to rethink everything and Schnetzer plays this perfectly. There's also a lot of dramatic heft from George MacKay as Joe, a member of LGSM who had only just identified himself as gay, not even coming out to his parents, and the struggle he feels in keeping his feelings hidden from his homophobic parents is distressing to watch. This has a parallel with Andrew Scott's performance as Gethin, someone who ended up losing touch with his parents after coming out and hasn't recovered from it, and Scott is excellent in selling the distress of the character. There are also touching performances from Paddy Considine, Bill Nighy and Jessica Gunning as members of the mining community, showing how much the money from LGSM has supported the miners and the power of solidarity and from Joseph Gilgun and Faye Marsay as members of LGSM. That's not to say all the performances are touching, all of the cast members have some really funny moments. The standouts though are Dominic West, who gives one of the most flamboyant performances I've seen in a film recently, with a dancing scene of his being a highlight. The other comedic highlight is Imelda Staunton whose interactions with the gay community are hilarious (for example, near the end of the film there are scenes of her in various gay clubs, including some more extreme ones, and it's just funny to see her pottering around these clubs) and she has a lot of the best lines but she also shows that she is not someone to be messed with and will not tolerate hatred of LGSM, with her putting the Umbridge death glare to good use.

Overall, Pride is an excellent film, bringing to light an event in British LGBT rights and the Miners Strike that most people weren't aware of in a way that is funny and heartwarming, with a great sense of hope running throughout the film showing the continued power of solidarity that is needed in any major cause.

My Rating: 5/5

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