Winter 2015 Features series
Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 4:00pm
Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 7:00pm
Directed by Matthew Warchus
Screenplay by Stephen Beresford
Starring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, and Dominic West
Rated PG ·
English and Welsh
Margaret Thatcher’s iron-fisted rule over 1980s Britain prompted waves of political protest. Perhaps the most amazing response of all occurred when Welsh coal miners and London lesbians and gays found a common cause. Pride tells the story of that unlikely alliance; it was never obvious, but it sure looks like fun.
By 1984, new-wave music had taken over the clubs, Thatcher’s government was battling mining unions, and London’s queer communities were perfecting artful activism. Into this mix walks Mark (Ben Schnetzer, The Riot Club, The Book Thief). Out, proud, and always ready for a righteous battle, he cannot accept that any one form of oppression should outrank another. Overcoming the reluctance of his ragtag band of friends—who would mostly rather party than protest—he brings them together to form Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. But do the miners want this kind of support?
Pride is at its most outrageously funny when the LGSM activists crash into small town South Wales in their brightly painted communal bus. Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, Another Year) is wonderful here as the hard-working Welsh woman whose support group holds the community together, while Paddy Considine (The World’s End, Submarine) plays a forward-thinking union organizer and the inimitable Bill Nighy (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Love Actually) takes a subtle role as the local pub historian. Their encounters with the misfits and rabble-rousers who make up the LGSM give Pride its comedy and its heart. Some in the mining village have to get over their homophobia. Some of the gay activists have to get over themselves.
Brits excel at this kind of comedy of integration, and director Matthew Warchus film ranks high in this tradition. Gloriously recapturing the British eighties—not unlike the American sixties with its mix of protest, new music, and smashed social norms—Pride shows how exciting it was to be young then. And with its smart, nuanced understanding of the ongoing LGBTQ struggle, it affirms the power of movies to tell a transformational story.
“Movies based on true stories can cause trepidation. So many liberties are routinely taken that enjoyment becomes complicated. And then there are movies like Pride. This portrayal of the unlikely 1980s alliance between London gay-rights activists and striking Welsh miners is, quite simply, one of the best movies of the year so far. It’s full of life and humor, and earned emotion. It never feels like a canned, greatest-hits collection of news clippings, but a fiery, live performance. Rather than fretting about the film’s accuracy, viewers may find the lingering question to be why its release wasn’t held for awards season.” (Michael Ordona, San Francisco Chronicle)
“This film moves effortlessly from some pretty intense dramatic moments to hilarious scenes showcasing the contrasting lifestyles of the gay and straight worlds to some vignettes of incredible poignancy.” (Bill Zwecker, Chicago Sun-Times)