Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s 1984 crackdown on miners and other members of British labor unions has already been documented to some degree in such films as Billy Elliot and The Iron Lady. CBS Films’ Pride, now playing in Los Angeles and New York before expanding nationally next month, reveals an inspiring, little-known aspect of this historical episode.
Moved by the plight of striking workers in a small Welsh town for whom mining provided the local economy, a group of gay and lesbian Londoners led by HIV+ activist Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer, last seen in The Book Thief) began to collect money as well as donations of food and clothing to send to the miners’ families. The recipients were initially perplexed if not outright offended by the notion of “fa—ots” coming to their aid, but over time the town’s residents and members of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (as they came to be called) learn to appreciate one another.
In addition to passionate turns by young, relative newcomers Schnetzer, George MacKay and Faye Marsay as the support group’s founding members, the movie boasts a top-drawer roster of British actors including Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West and Paddy Considine. Irish-born Andrew Scott supplies what may be the film’s most affecting performance as a gay man who dreads returning to his homophobic home country of Wales, no matter how good the cause. Nighy and Staunton also have a nice scene together in which they bare their characters’ secrets while making finger sandwiches.
Pride marks the first produced screenplay by actor-writer Stephen Beresford as well as only the second film directed by Matthew Warchus, better known as the guiding force behind Broadway’s God of Carnage and the hit stage musical Matilda. Their shared inexperience with filmmaking results in a number of one-dimensional characters, especially where the women are concerned, and less-than-subtle directorial flourishes. Still, Pride won the Queer Palm award for best LGBT-themed entry at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and succeeds greatly on the strength of its cast and undeniably powerful true story. It’s a real crowd-pleaser, so show your pride by seeing Pride.
Reverend’s Rating: B+
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.