There is so much “inspired by a true story” crap churned out in Hollywood that when the genuine article appears, it’s a shock. Such a movie is Pride, a Brit dramedy that is a crowd-pleaser in the best sense of the word. Even when it’s tugging hard at your heartstrings, you believe the damn thing.
The facts are these: In 1984, the National Union of Mineworkers went on strike over pit closures, as well as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s hard-line policies. The film, vibrantly directed by stage maestro Matthew Warchus (Matilda) from a script by Stephen Beresford, concerns the unlikely help the miners are offered by London gay and lesbian activists. It’s Mark (the excellent Ben Schnetzer) who rallies the LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) to back the striking families by pointing out the parallels between the disenfranchised miners and the oppression felt by gays and lesbians under the heel of conservatism. Any resemblance between these groundbreakers and the battle for sexual civil rights still being fought today is purely intentional. Pride is not subtle about making its points, but sadly these are points that still need to be made.
When the miners union turns down the offer from LGSM, the group goes rogue to make an in-person plea to the strikers in Dulais, a small mining village in South Wales. If you’re imagining Welsh homophobia melting against the generous spirits of their gay champions, you’re not far from wrong. Heads are bashed, and some bigots stay bigots.
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You’ll want to cheer the actors, notably Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy and Paddy Considine among the locals and Dominic West, Fay Marsay and George MacKay on Team LGSM. Pride naively thinks it can change the world with a single movie. Talk about fighting spirit. I couldn’t have liked it more.