What a richly textured, finely performed drama demonstrating a social reality; if
a community is diverse and people socialize with one another, it tends to open up
and be kinder to others. Strangers and strangeness are welcomed rather than feared.
But isn’t it also true that there are always a few…
Pride, based on a true story, opens with a gay pride parade in London, with an ambivalent
hanger-on, curious and shy, who gets caught up in the procession (Dominic West as
Jonathan) and a banner shoved into his hands. He’s eventually introduced to Mark
(Ben Schnetzer), the dynamic leader of the group, whose creative leadership is expressed
as naturally as flying for a bird. He’s ingenious in dreaming up new ideas for charitable
works, and his latest is for the London group to help the miners in Wales (1980s),
who have been on strike and seem to be derided and beat up by the government, the
police, and others in the same way that gays are. This creates a bond that makes
the gays want to help and support the miners. They will call their group LGSM (“Lesbians
and Gays Support the Miners”).
It is, of course, an unlikely pairing, so it takes a while for LGSM to locate a
miner group that will even accept their donation—and this only happens eventually
because a naïve person answers the phone. But there are plucky citizens who end
up supporting them [Cliff (Bill Nighy), Hefina (Imelda Staunton), Dai (Paddy Considine),
and Sian (Jessica Gunning)]. They influence most of the community to get on board,
and when the gay pride group arrives in their small town, there is a gradual blending
Complications include young Jonathan’s relationship with his family, gay bashing
and not so subtle manipulations against them in London and Wales, and a small group
of resistant miners who would rather starve than accept help from gay people. The
film is highly successful in blending increased social awareness with entertaining
interactions among the characters.
The big names (Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Paddy Considine, Dominic West) are at
the top of their form, but actors like Schnetzer and Jessica Gunning (Sian), the
most enthusiastic local, display their considerable talent.
The writer Stephen Beresford and director Matthew Warchus have woven together a
fine production that hits all the bases: substance, entertainment, and production
skills. I also appreciated Christopher Nightingale’s music and the cinematography
of Tat Radcliffe.