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  Pride Your Gays Have Arrived
Year: 2014
Director: Matthew Warchus
Stars: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Paddy Considine, Andrew Scott, George Mackay, Joseph Gilgun, Ben Schnetzer, Jessica Gunning, Faye Marsay, Monica Dolan, Freddie Fox, Lisa Palfrey, Liz White, Karina Fernandez, Jessie Cave, Russell Tovey
Genre: Comedy, Drama, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mark (Ben Schnetzer) is a young activist for gay rights in 1984 London, and life can be pretty tough for members of a minority such as that during this decade. The only way things are going to improve, thinks Mark, is if he takes the bull by the horns and does something about it, so looking around for a cause to promote he notes well the news broadcasts about the Miners' Strike which has just begun. He regards the strikers as in the same boat as the homosexuals, fighting back against a Conservative Government that are either uncaring as to what their policies are doing to communities and society, or actively hostile towards them, so it seems the obvious course of action to set up the Lesbians and Gay Men Support the Miners group...

Pride was part of the movement in post-millennial cinema to recreate factual events only to place a fictional twist on them, not just in Britain but across the world, bringing fairly recent history back into the public's consciousness, or at least that was the idea, for many of the British efforts in this vein made a few ripples then were forgotten about once more. In this instance, things were a little different as while it may not have been of blockbuster dimensions, the story of the miners' struggle and how it linked with the battle for gay rights thanks to the endeavours of the gay community back in the nineteen-eighties chimed with the public of the twenty-tens and it became a pretty decent sized hit.

There were grumbles, but that always seems to be the case when it comes to conjuring up true events for the silver screen, so the lack of non-white faces was a problem for some, apparently not realising that the group involved were almost exclusively white and male (there was a lesbian splinter group, as shown in the film), therefore to recast the actual people as a different race would likely be far more controversial than being more faithful to the facts. Perhaps with more validity, there were issues brought up by the more right wing members of the potential audience who felt the Tories were being misrepresented and the coal industry was well on the way out by the point of the pit closures, not something addressed by this movie.

However, what it did address was that if the mining jobs went, there was literally nothing to replace them, so it was little wonder that the citizens of these communities were hanging on to their livelihoods like grim death, a problem that has had repercussions for decades. But don't go thinking you would be getting a lecture on the miners, for this was actually more about the homosexuals and we see the miners' acceptance of their grievances and support as a channel through which the wider society could come around to getting along with the idea that there was a significant number of people who would identify themselves in an orientation other than straight. Screenwriter Stephen Beresford was aware this could become dry and earnest, so added a line in humour to sweeten the pill of serious message making.

It was a pity then that his jokes weren't all that funny, mostly centring around the culture clash and little old ladies firing off quips about having a lez-off, and that drawback the painfully sincere and right-on can have with landing a really good punchline was sadly evident in Pride, as if the subject matter was too grave to make light of in any convincing manner. That said, if they hadn't been there this would have been a very different experience, so on balance it was better that there were attempts to prompt giggles and chuckles since you appreciated the effort, and it made the scenes that were more serious in tone stand out rather better. Assembling a bunch of reliable British and Irish thesps (and one American, Schnetzer, performing an impeccable Northern Irish accent) also boosted the work's respectability, though there was only so much that could be addressed in even a couple of hours when you had to fit in what seemed like every topic gay men and women had to face, leaving this a shade overstuffed and underplotted to leave room for the politics. But a noble effort, for all that. Music by Christopher Nightingale.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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