Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pride: Movie Review


Cheering along with a film full of passion.
Set in the 1980s when gays and lesbians struggled to gain acceptance and equality in society, Pride manages to find another segment of society undergoing similar hostility from the police, Margaret Thatcher and the government. Book-ended by the 1984 and 1985 gay pride parades in London, the time in between was marked by the major miner’s strike – causing massive turmoil for everyone involved. 2014

Directed by: Matthew Warcus

Screenplay by: Stephen Beresford

Starring: Ben Schnetzer, Dominic West, Jessica Gunning, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton

The film focuses on a group of London-based gays and lesbians who recognize that what they went through echoes what the miners are going through and band together to form LGSM, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, a small group raising money to help the mining communities fight back against a common enemy. Obviously there are a lot of differences between a group of homosexuals and groups of miners, and LGSM don’t even know if the miners will accept their help.

One cold call, one van ride down bumpy roads through Welsh towns with no vowels, and many societal stereotypes later, we have a very funny movie. London gays and Welsh miners make strange bed fellows, and London gays and middle-age to elderly miner wives and mothers make even stranger bed fellows, and the film very easily finds the way to one’s heart with a lot of simple, expected, but still very funny humour.

Pictures courtesy of Remstar Films Media.
The film is about people coming together, forming friendship where you least expect it, and finding joy in human relationships. But the remarkable thing about the movie is that it delivers exactly what it aims to. Pride echoes its title and just exhumes pure joy and friendship in people coming together. Focus on the successes, not the failures; focus on commonalities not differences; Focus on what can be achieved, not what can be lost. Using the obstacles for humour instead of drama, and we have a movie that’s impossible not to love.

Clearly the characters have passion, the filmmakers have passion, but it can be difficult in translating that passion through a two-dimensional screen, and then space and time to a disparate audience. But that passion comes through in spades. Most gay rights movies focus on the life and death struggles with AIDS to evoke a sense of powerfulness, but this film uses humour and real characters and the very basic human emotion of companionship.

The lead is Mark Ashton a gay rights activist played by British newcomer Ben Schnetzer. Schnetzer embodied Mark with the passion to do something, the charisma to be a leader, but with the humility to settle as a reluctant leader. He then has to balance being a confident leader with the fear of failure and acknowledgement that he doesn’t have his own life figured out either. A looming AIDS test hangs in the air of the unknown future.

Including Bill Nighy as a silent, uncertain leader, Jessica Gunning as an ebullient woman who welcomes the group with open arms, and Dominic West as the emotional and dancing leader of the LGSM team, the cast really do come together as a disparate group of people who are going to find friendship in the face of adversity.

Rivaling Milk as the best gay rights movie, Pride is more than just gay rights, it’s also workers’ rights, and accepting what you have to. It’s pure fun, joy and passion, and a passion that will most likely make you sing out loud, dance along in gay nightclubs, and stand up and cheer.
Best of 2014