Pride (2014) (R)
















As one might expect from the title, "Pride" is a movie that flies its banner very high. It doesn't seek to address the "gay agenda" and yet it can't help itself and it does so, encompassing as much as possible. It's a movie that serves as a piece of history, social commentary, and dramedy all wrapped up into one nearly perfect viewing experience.
"Pride" exceeds at almost everything it tries to do—the only criticism that comes to mind is its hyperbolic tendencies and its fairly manipulative feeling story telling. Psh, semantics, every movie does that.
Opening in the 80s, during the time of the miner strikes in the UK, "Pride" doesn't give much time to set things up before plunging us head first into its story which is really quite simple: a company of gay and lesbian folks decide that it is time to stand up for other people and they choose the ultra-conservative miner strike yokels as the source of their attention. Just by the trailer you can see that they will be met with a large amount of animosity, not to mention physical aggression. Ah, but this movie is meant to build you up, not tear you down. It's to remind you that things get better daily for the LGBT community without having the guts to actually say that events in history never really were this seamless. Still, it's an uplifting movie with a fanfare tendency and by the end of it all I was a hot mess of tears and laughter. It's very moving above all of its minor faults.
Mark (Ben Schnetzer) is an activist at heart. He loves a good march and it's in the very first scene and even in the first few seconds of the movie that we see an idea birth in his head: he wants to help the miners. So he collects a bunch of buckets and goes to the gay pride march and hands the buckets out to his chums who all collectively roll their eyes at him, but don't argue with his zeal. Soon they have 200 quid and now Mark wants to start making this something permanent. He feels somehow connected to the miners: they were both bullied by police, both the subject of aggression, both denied rights, etc.
But here's the problem: there's no reciprocity. The LGSM (lesbians and gays support the miners) doesn't get that much support because why would someone reach out to another party who almost inevitably going to spit in their face? But maybe it is Mark's determination or naiveté, either way, he pushes on, incredibly determined.
Along the way, Joe (George MacKay) gets picked up. This boy is not even out of the closet and yet it's all he wants to do to be a part of something bigger. He just so happens to fall into Mark's hands at the right time and is recruited to help the miners too. He doesn't mind and it gets him out of the house, but he continues to lie to his parents about where he's going and who is going to be there. The LGBT community strikes him as something foreign, bizarre, and loads of fun.
Joe immediately befriends Steph (Faye Marsay) who shows him the ropes of the system...kind of. The LGSM uses a gay bookstore run by Gethin (Andrew Scott) and his wild partner Jonathan (Dominic West) to hold their meetings and many personal complexities result there after.
After all the build up, the team realizes that they have to reach out to a mining community in order to give them money but every time they try to, they get shut down solely on prejudices alone. Until fate places them in the Welsh town of Onllwyn.
Some of the local patrons of the town are familiar faces to the screen: Paddy Considine, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and each one is more perfect for their role than the last one. But there is a problem: the bad guys of the movie are too conniving. They lurk behind closed windows and think of nothing but the demise of the LGBT community. I'm not saying that animosity did not exist, I just don't think it was quite so Disney.
Then there's the support, which is also find fault with because I don't think years of prejudice can be wiped away with a simple shrug of the shoulders...but oh, well, the movie moves on.
For a very simple plot about a very complicated matter, "Pride" never makes itself feel too dumb or too smart for its audience. It's an incredible crowd-pleasing movie and within it are two magnificent performances.
Although both George MacKay ad Ben Schnetzer give brilliant turns, it's Andrew Scott who takes your breath away. In a very under-appreciated role, the "Sherlock" actor gives his all and really nails a role with lots and lots of complexity. Scott here rivals his malicious "Sherlock" role with a a layered look at someone who was hurting and trying to live a facade—unsure, happy at times, but wary. I can't emphasize enough how good he is in the movie. The other performance that stood out to me was Bill Nighy for obvious reasons when you see the movie.
But "Pride" never lets you take a breath as it races from scene to the next. It plays out as a two-hour joy ride. It's not quite sentimental enough to be Oscar bait, but I'm sure that this movie will sweep up its fair share of awards when that seasons rolls by.
"Pride" is proud, "Pride" is fun", "Pride" is good.













Score: ★★★½

2 comments:

  1. Great and astute review of a movie I enjoyed very much! I grew up (and came out) in the mid 1980s and the period music and production design brought back a lot of memories. Most of all, I loved the charming performances by the great ensemble cast. Yes, the political issues have been soft-soaped and simplified quite a bit to tug at the heart strings, but effectively as you note!

    I just discovered your entertaining blog and look forward to reading lots more.
    -Chris

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