Genre: Comedy, Drama, History
Directed by: Matthew Warchus
Starring: Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton
It’s really difficult to deliver a feel good film that doesn’t shy away from serious issues without descending into mawkishness or sentimentality. Pride is neither. Instead, the film commemorates the hitherto unremarked but nevertheless remarkable alliance between Welsh miners and London lesbians and gay men. It is an enjoyable, well-made and sometimes uplifting movie set in a bleak period of British history.
Pride is a political film in the best sense: it’s about people joining together to take control of their own destinies, a theme which has a long history in UK cinema, going back at least to the fantasy of Passport to Pimlico to the based-on-fact Made in Dagenham, with The Full Monty and Billy Elliott in between. The film, so appropriately named, delivers a moving story about pride, friendship and solidarity. When I wasn’t laughing at the incredible performances from the top cast, I was crying at the emotional and moving story that runs through the film.
That is not to say that it shies away from the horrors both the miners and the LGBT community faced back then. It does not avoid the shadow of aids or the genuine issues gay and lesbian people faced in the 1980’s. This so easily could have slipped into a tragic or an over politically charged story, but instead it’s beautifully written and balanced. It’s funny but very moving, with a perfect blend of comedy and seriousness. This is certainly a political film, but you don’t have to be into politics. Simply, you have to have a heart. It’s uplifting to see how totally disparate groups can support each other and learn more about both communities in the process.
It starts with the music of Pete Seeger and ends with Billy Bragg, two activist musicians who I greatly admire. The dialogue is well thought-out, and delivered convincingly by a stellar cast, who are always believable in their roles. It never strays into the offensive, or to the other end of the spectrum, patronising. It restores my faith in humanity, traditional British fairness and good nature.
I had wondered how we turned around the institutionalised homophobia which saw Britain’s LGBT people crushed under the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 to the legal enshrinement of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act of 2013 – in only a few short decades. Now I know how this journey started, through a beautifully, well handled story. This movie has jumped straight to the top of my best films of the year.