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Pride - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+

Even though it's about a small group of gays and lesbians in 1980s United Kingdom coming to the aid of striking Welsh miners, you might expect a movie called Pride to be more about the gays than about the miners. The refreshing thing about this movie is that, if anything, it's the other way around: the primary focus is always on the miners. How the miners react to getting help from the gay community is the secondary concern.

That said, the secondary concern is very close to matching the primary concern in significance, thanks to a delicate balance provided by director Matthew Warchus and first-time feature writer Stephen Beresford. The script hews toward formula, but in this case it's a formula that works swimmingly: Pride succeeds as the feel-good movie it is clearly intended to be, so what's to complain about?

Granted, this is based on a true story, and real life is never as polished as this. That hardly matters. The incredible thing is that this happened at all: young and super-idealistic Mark (a very pretty Stephen Beresford) is convinced that oppressed groups must work together, and sees striking miners getting harassed in all the same ways he and his gay friends do. It's his idealism alone that spurs him to organize support in solidarity, and at the London Pride March in 1984, he passes out buckets for collecting cash in support of miners currently out of work.

But where to send it, exactly? Calls to labor organizations that want nothing to do with gay people prove fruitless, until Mark decides to call a mining town directly -- and the mostly female committee that responds to the call decides to accept.

What follows is honestly predictable: the GLSM ("Gays and Lesbians Support the Miners") visit the Welsh mining town they have chosen; the town citizens are wary of accepting them; a local widow (and aforementioned committee member) becomes a bit of a stock villain in her strenuous opposition to this association, working to sabotage freshly binding ties.

There's nothing new in the way this story is told, and to a degree Pride stands to become the Kinky Boots of the 2010s. But who cares, when it's so much fun? We get to see old ladies who turn out to be the most open minded people in the town, and macho guys take baby steps toward overcoming homophobia. At least when it's not too saccharine -- and that is something this movie is not -- then that tends to be a good time.

Regardless of how the story is told, it's much more important that this story is even getting told at all. The basic beats of the story are things that really happened, which might otherwise have been forgotten to history in pop culture -- or at least British pop culture. (Alas, it's actually harder to imagine any American mining communities learning to work with the queers, particularly thirty years ago.) Throw in fun supporting turns by Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and In America's Paddy Considine as towns folk, and you have a winning movie. There's even The Wire's Dominic West as the supposedly most flamboyant of the gay group, even though his mannerisms are actually fairly muted. Even when they're British, this is the advantage of non-American films: the stereotypical characters still have nuance.

And nuance is perhaps the key element in Pride -- it can shine through even in a formula picture. And by the end of this picture, that formula will become a recipe for happy tears, just seeing what's really possible through examination of our hidden shared histories.

Ben Schnetzer leads a group of Londoner gays and lesbians in support of Welsh miners in PRIDE.

Overall: B+
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