Movie Review: “Pride” Is A Remarkable And Affectionate Movie

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Review by James McDonald

U.K. gay activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.

“Pride” tells the true story of a small group of gay advocates in England during the Mineworkers strike of 1984 who went out of their way to help the men and their families while they were out of work. The story opens up after the events which lead to the strikes and while the miners and their plight are at the very heart of the movie, the politics behind their boycott is rarely mentioned. One morning while making breakfast, Mark (Ben Schnetzer) is watching TV when he sees a news segment about the miners’ strike and in a moment of inspiration, he realizes what he must do. Mark is the leader of a small group of gay men and women who try to reach out to others in their community and help them out, whether it’s fundraising or marching for a good cause.

He informs the group that they are going to help the miners but they don’t know where to start. They call themselves ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’ and each and every time they try calling a different office, nobody will speak to them. One of the guys in the group, Gethin (Andrew Scott), is originally from Wales and he suggests a small town not far from where he used to live and after approaching them, the town are only too happy to have them come and visit. Well, not the entire town, naturally, there are many who will not associate themselves with gay people, considering that this is 1984 and AIDS is beginning to rear its ugly head but thanks to the courage and audacity of a select few townspeople, the group are made to feel welcome and at home.

Over time, many of the town’s residents surrender to the charm and warmth that the group brings along with them and also the fact that they are bringing money, food and clothes for everybody. “Pride” is absorbing in its study of human interaction. Even though the movie’s time-frame is the mid 1980s, an era when admitting you were gay was grounds for your family and friends to reject and disown you, it just goes to show that even back then, there were courageous people who would not let society tell them how to behave or who to acquaint themselves with. The movie’s core is about acceptance and cooperation, helping others in need especially when they have previously reached out to you. Each and every one of the characters herein feels legitimately authentic.

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One of the characters, Joe (George MacKay), a twenty year old man who still lives at home with his parents, is given a new camera for his birthday and while out and about, he accidentally becomes involved in a gay march that Mark and his group have initiated. He likes the group so much, that he becomes friends with them but nobody ever asks him if he is gay or straight, they just assume. And we are left wondering the same thing. He’s your average young kid who wants to feel like he’s a part of something bigger, something that can reach out beyond the norm and help others but every day when they drop him off in his neighborhood, he insists that it is not in front of his home but around the corner.

One could argue that he is not gay but around his home environment, embarrassed to be seen with his new friends while the other argument would be that he is gay but not ready to announce it to the whole world. Either way, it is character traits like this that keeps you guessing until all is revealed and director Matthew Warchus does an exceptional job in creating believable scenes and dialogue that never once feel forced or fake. Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Paddy Considine and Dominic West are simply a joy to behold in absolutely every scene they are in and overall, I believed in all of the movie’s characters, their motivations and relationships and every little nuance they felt for each other and there were occasions when the movie was witness to human growth and modification, on both sides.

“Pride” is a feelgood movie that affected me to the point that when I left the theater, I had specific intentions to try and rectify my own relationships and be a better person. It’s very rare that a movie can achieve that level of emotion for me and I’m just so happy that the cast and crew involved with the film, made it so elegantly and beautifully and filled it with love and respect. Highly recommended.

In select theaters October 10th including the Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano

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James McDonald
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