Pride is remarkable and wonderful
The saying “inspired by a true story” is always worrying to accept at face-value. “Inspired by” rather than “based on” kinda suggests massive liberties were taken with the narrative. At first glance, that would certainly seem to be the case regarding Pride, the new film written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus. It seems unfathomable that such a story could be real, but it turns out that, incredibly, the film does indeed remain very loyal to a true story. And it does so brilliantly.
Pride is set in the UK in the summer of 1984. That old witch Margaret Thatcher is in power and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike. This leads a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families. It’s a controversial idea. Miners and gays came from different worlds and casual homophobia was ingrained into society. Worse, violence against homosexuals was common. Initially rebuffed by the Union, the group decides to circumnavigate them and instead puts a pin in a map to find a Welsh tiny mining village. They get in their van and make their donation in person.
After a frosty introduction, the two communities find common ground in their persecution, and learn that standing together makes them stronger. Friendships are formed, lives are altered forever.
In terms of tone, Pride sits close to something like Made in Dagenham. It is painted with unapologetic love and affection. It is absolutely hilarious and deeply touching, while not diminishing the seriousness of the subject-matter. It has a certain Brassed Off grit to it. I laughed countless times and cried more than at any film I can remember. So many feels.
Standout performances come from Bill Nighy, who plays a meek old duffer from Wales, and Dominic West (pictured, left), who is unrecognisable as the flamboyant gay man whose dancing skills play a big role in bringing the two sides together. Detective Jimmy McNulty he most certainly is not. Meanwhile, Ben Schnetzer is superb as Mark Aston, the passionate, handsome young leader of LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners). Paddy Considine too, plays the humble, open-minded Dai with the perfect combination of understatement and charisma. Young George Mackay does a great job as the innocent Bromley (incidentally, he was one of the few entirely invented characters, created to help introduce the audience into the gay and lesbian scene).
The film looks great too. The clothes are so awesomely 80s that Surry Hills scenesters will want to reach into the screen and grab them for themselves.
Simply, Pride is a must-see. It will teach you a story that you didn’t know and would never believe could have happened. It is fascinating and feel-good and sad and empowering all at once. Try not to read too much about it before you head to the cinema though. It is best enjoyed with little knowledge of the intricacies of the story. Just allow it to wash over you.
When the credits role and once you’ve wiped away the tears, you will want to stand up, beat your chest, put your fist to the sky and shout Victory to the Miners and the Gays! Then you’ll want to go and give your mum a cuddle. Once you’ve done all that, you can jump online and read up on this marvellous true story, these remarkable people and their incredible act of solidarity.
Pride is out now in the UK and opens in Australian cinemas on October 30.
Review by Bobby Townsend.