Film Review: Pride

It’s amazing how when you search for something, it seemingly goes into hiding. I had wanted to find a “pair” of movies, an original and a sequel, and watch them back to back. But I couldn’t find anything obvious, and the few that came to mind (Cars, Kick Ass) all fall flat with the second album, so to speak.

And so I turned to Twitter where a friend, having the same fruitless answers, suggested that I give up looking and instead watch Pride. A tale about gay’s, lesbian’s and the miner’s strikes of the 1980s. I must admit, it’s been on my list of films to watch for a while, after all, people laud it as a true British comedy and Wittertainment, the BBC Film Podcast that I am a happy listener of, even proclaimed it their film of 2014.

BBC Pocast - Pride

I was expecting it to be good, a ringing endorsement from a film mad friend and my trusted Podcast meant I knew I’d be in safe hands, but I didn’t expect them to be quite so safe. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Pride is arguably one of the best films I have seen in years. It truly is a polish gem, that wasn’t really hidden but rather, not quite shouting as loudly as it really should. There is always a risk with any low budget British comedy that you run the risk of it becoming stale, repetitive and clichéd. That it just rolls out a monotonous plot before attempting to layer humour through predictable jokes performed by a cast that are going through the motions, the big name elder statesmen used to balance out a weaker unknown cast.

And the risk of it all falling apart was high, especially as the subject, the 1980s Miner’s Strike and the support of the gay and lesbian scene not only plays on strong emotions but also stereotypical bigotry that still linger to this day. This was a story that was, and is still, very raw for a large number of people and could easily open old wounds and divisions if handled badly. I’m sure that it’s weak box office performance is as much down to prejudiced ideas than post viewing opinion.

I however, was still in nappies when the story takes place. I didn’t live emotionally through it, I don’t remember it happening and so I didn’t have those ties, those ideas. I was happy to give the film a blank page from which to work. I wouldn’t judge it, I just wanted to know it’s story. To see what it had to offer, and the first thing you find is that this isn’t a story about homosexuals, or pit workers. It is a story about people.

Dominic West & Imedla Staunton Dancing - Pride

The reason Pride is so good, is such a little gem is because it instantly and constantly manages to take you past the superficial and really show the characters. You forget every label because the simple truth is they don’t matter. They are not important. This film is so enjoyable because you get caught up in a story of unity and strength and belief and not sexual orientation or bigoted ideas. You fall in love with the people and their personalities, their humour, they feel so human and real that I spent large parts wanting to be there, to dance on the tables, so share a drink and just have some fun.

And what’s even better is that no matter how uplifting and enjoyable the story is, it’s the characters that make it. It’s essentially one big supporting cast. There are vague leading roles, but they all level off into a wider picture, given focus when needed but nobody ever  under a constant gaze. Bill Nighy, sadly comes across as the slightly bumbling old man he so perfectly pigeon holes these days that you could easily place him into About Time or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel without pausing for breath, but it doesn’t really matter because as I said the focus shifts enough, and the strength around him so good, that he never really feels out of place, but rather just a little too obvious.

Special mention needs to go to Dominic West, who I usually struggle to accept in any role because of The Wire and the character that launched him spectacularly into my life always being cemented in my mind, but in this, he’s given such a differing role that he really can just go to town, explore his inner diva and cause you to forget what he’s done before. I adored his performance and the paternal naughtiness he brings to the tale. Similarly George MacKay equally impressed by bring to life the shy realisation and development his character needed and in fact, he is so different from his performance in Sunshine On Leith that it actually became almost annoying. His face so familiar but I just couldn’t picture from where.

Pride - Cast

And you can just carrying on going with the praise, Jessica Gunning is amazing, I want to marry Faye Marsay and Ben Schnetzer anchors everything together with heartbreaking precision and tone.

As I said, I expected Pride to be good, I didn’t expect it to be this good. As a film it has a maturity way beyond anything it should and handles a potentially dangerous storyline with such care and attention that it will leave you feeling all good and warm inside. It took a political hot potato and made you realise, as the miner’s did, as the country finally did, that it doesn’t matter “what” you are but rather “who” you are, and that love, support and simply caring means more than life, labels or pride.

9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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