Pride review


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Pride review
Pride (2014)
Matthew Warchus
Bill Nighy, Ben Schnetzer
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Age Rating:

A group of LGBT activists decide to support the miners during the 1984 strikes in the UK.

Let’s be clear, that summary doesn’t do any justice to what’s going on in the deliriously entertaining Pride.

While it is literally the story of a group of gay and lesbian folks who start collecting money and raising awareness for a group of striking miners in Wales in 1984 it’s also a whole lots more – including being an hilarious comedy, touching drama and an engaging glimpse at recent history.

The first time I saw a trailer for the film, I was convinced it was actually a musical. The staging, the bright colours and the big performances would all be perfectly suited to that kind of presentation, and the film does burst into song for one rousing moment.

While I’d still love to see that musical version (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens) what we have is a film bursting with energy and life. Sparks fly when these two cultures clash as they both work against the conservative government and the narrative gives us plenty of dramatic speeches, belly laughs and even a few tearful moments.

Fundamentally, stage director Matthew Warchus conjures up a light take on the grim realities of gay activism in the 80s. The homophobic violence and intolerance is kept at the edges of the frame, alluded at but never quite intruding into the picture.

It’s a clever way to keep the social context without making the film too heavy, but the flighty style might be too light for some. On the other hand, it does a good job of introducing these themes and issues to a wider audience, with the film partiocularly pitched at something of an older crowd.

Which isn’t to say it’s entirely weightless, I was moved to tears several times during the fast moving 2 hour running time, particularly though a number of stirring speeches by committed performers like Paddy Considine.

He’s just one of a bunch of familiar faces here, including the ever delightful Bill Nighy, a wonderful Imelda Staunton, campily brilliant Dominic West and out gateway character courtesy of George McKay.

Andrew Scott gives an unusually restrained performance as Welshy Gethin but its American Ben Schnetzer who makes the biggest impression. His Northern Irish accent is nigh on perfect and his ferocious activism makes him the most electric character on screen, complete with a depth that almost belong in another picture. This talented youngster is one to watch.

Pride is a marvellously entertaining film – funny, moving and almost hewing closer to reality than you might expect. It’s an inspiring tale which shows a rose-tinted view of what was no doubt a monumentally difficult time for LGBT activism but perhaps it retcons the past in the hope of an equally positive future for minorities of all shapes and colours.

8 Stars: Recommended
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