Twitter Plot Summary: The true life story of how a gay activist group supported the miners during the strike of 1984-85.
Five Point Summary:
1. The 1980s. It looks very dank and unpleasant.
2. Jonathan is very flamboyant, isn’t he?
3. Welcome to Wales. It rains there.
4. Sowing the seeds of trust and acceptance.
5. Your obligatory feelgood ending.
Pride is a film which on inspection has many layers to it. First and foremost it’s a story about cooperation in spite of the outward differences we may have or the attitudes of others towards you, your politics or your sexual orientation. Set in 1984, it’s the story of the 1984-85 miner’s strike and the group of gay men and women (under the banner Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) who decided to support and raise funds for them because they were essentially kindred spirits. You know – attacked by the authorities and disliked by the general populace for standing up for your principles, that sort of thing. Essentially, their actions are a heartfelt “screw you” to Thatcher and her gradual dissolution of British industry, but that’s a political thread for discussion at another time and place.
Our way into witnessing this situation is through twenty year old gay man Joe, played with assurance by George MacKay. Joe attends a gay pride march and quickly finds himself involved with the movement to support the miners, established by activist Mark (Ben Schnetzer). Before long they are off to the incredibly Welsh mining town which has more consonants than is absolutely necessary, where they encounter initial scepticism and strong opposition from the uptight, anti-gay mother who actively seeks to have their fundraising efforts ignored by the striking miners.
Pride runs through the typical gamut of emotions, knowing exactly when to throw a laugh your way or to tug on the heartstrings and provide a moment of raw emotion. Somehow the script manages to find a balance between these two separate and distinct tones, leaving an audience almost in tears one moment and guffawing the next. It is the fact that the script balances these conflicting emotions which pushes the story from ignored daytime television and into prime time awards territory.
It is supported by strong performances from Paddy Considine, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton on the Welsh side of things (nary an accent slipped), and the aforementioned MacKay and Schnetzer on the LGSM front. Dominic West threatens to steal the show on several occasions as the flamboyant Jonathan, one of the two older gay men within the LGSM group, partner of Andrew Scott’s Gethin, who runs the book shop in which the LGSM is established.
There are certain aspects of the story that are sadly given short shrift – we don’t get to know the LGSM group in any detail beyond the broad strokes that a movie plot necessitates, and there are perhaps too many characters for everyone to get their fair share of screen time, but you get a good feel for the little Welsh mining community and their gradual segue into appreciating the efforts of the LGSM group. The concerns regarding the HIV/AIDS epidemic are also covered briefly, and whilst there is real dramatic heft to these moments they do come across as having been tacked on just to bolster the LGSM side of the story. On the other hand, they could be interpreted as showing that both sides have their concerns, that whilst the circumstances are different, everyone still has the same everyday concerns about health, about money, about making their way in the world. If you’re going to take any message away from Pride, it should be this: at the end of the day we’re not all that different, and by working together we get the best results. Food for thought.