We welcome competition winner Gareth Hutchins to the Picturehouse Blog who reviews PRIDE ahead of its release on Friday.
Pride with a healthy dollop of prejudice in this delightful true tale of an implausible alliance.
It’s 1984. I’m a small boy in Wales playing with Star Wars toys and dressing up as Batman (something that I only do nowadays if crime levels rise to unacceptable levels in my neighbourhood). Meanwhile, in a small mining town, not too far away, an unlikely alliance is taking place. The two members of this alliance? In one corner we have a lesbian and gay activist group from London assuming the role of chalk, and in the other we have a Welsh mining community playing the role of cheese. This unusual pairing of bullied social outcasts is the subject of Matthew Warchus (director) and Stephen Beresford’s (writer) film Pride, and I’d just like to say at this point, before we go any further, that it is utterly wonderful.
I was lucky enough to attend the UK premiere and after party of the film in Camden, courtesy of Picturehouse and it was an experience that far outweighed my expectations. And that’s even before taking in to consideration meeting Bill Nighy at the after party and an unexpected Jimmy Sommerville gig (he was surprisingly good!). I’d heard mutterings in dark corners that Pride was a fabulous peice of film making, but I still wasn’t convinced that it would batter its way in to my affections in the manner that it did.
Based on a true story, the film depicts a homosexual activist group in Brixton, who given the nature of UK society in the early eighties, faced an almighty struggle for acceptance. One of their members, Mark (impressively played by Ben Schnetzer), realising that the mining community at that time were in the midst of a bitter battle with their common foes (the police and The Iron Lady, Thatcher), promotes the idea to his peers that solidarity amongst the persecuted is the best route forward and a campaign called LGSM (The Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) is born. After an initial struggle to find a mining community willing to accept the help of these “flamboyant” outsiders, they eventually get lucky via a small Welsh village who are more open to outside help than others. But as one would expect, not everyone in the hillside is so joyous to welcome the LGSM in to their bosom and a fractious relationship ensues.
Pride is a film that will make you laugh out loud (easily surpassing the “six laugh out loud moments” test) whilst simultaneously tugging on your heart strings (my wife was in floods of tears). It’s beautifully balanced in this respect, managing to deliver wonderful comic timing and colourful characters without ever straying in to stereotype or cliched territory (something that could’ve easy happened with the wrong pair of hands at the helm). The film also has a real social and political depth at its core, but again this is beautifully measured with the filmmakers never going in too deeply or darkly, yet managing to not over trivialise the message at the same time. In many ways Pride shares a common DNA and plays to a similar audience as other much loved British movies such as Brassed Off or The Full Monty, but in my opinion it just manages to outshine both. The impressive ensemble cast featuring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, George Mackay, Ben Schnetzer, Andrew Scott and Paddy Considine are all wonderfully chosen and perfect for their respective rolls. Considine even manages to pull off a convincing Valleys accent (I’m pointing at you Tom Hardy), rather than the mutated Indian/Jamaican sounding attempts that often reverberate from the larynx of non-Welsh actors in such situations.
The Final Verdict
The best thing about Pride is…
The wonderfully judged balance between comedy and drama.
The worst thing about Pride is…
The trailer doesn’t do it justice.
You’ll like this if you liked…
Brassed Off and The Full Monty are the two obvious choices that spring to mind, but I also think the film shares similarities with This Is England, albeit a lighter hearted version.
Funny, touching and absorbing. I’d read somewhere that this film could be this decades The Full Monty. I truly hope that it receives similar accolades and appreciation from the movie going masses. It deserves it. Vying with Starred Up for the title of best British film of the year. Delightful stuff indeed.