Front Row at the Movies
"Pride" Supported Welsh Miners
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Here in Key West we understand gay pride. But it’s had its road bumps in other parts of the world.
Take the movie "Pride." Based on a true story, it tells of a group of gays and lesbians who came out in support of striking UK miners in 1984.
British filmmakers do those wonderful movies about small-town characters. To wit, "The Full Monty," "Made in Dagenham," "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain," "About Time," "Tamara Drewe," "Submarine," and "Local Hero."
Despite this Brit pedigree, "Pride" owes its plotline more to Kevin Bacon’s "Footloose" than to Margaret Thatcher's taking on the National Union of Mineworkers.
Here we meet just-out-of-the-closet Joe (George MacKay), a 20-year-old kid who traipses off to London and falls in with a likeminded group who rally around a Northern Irish activist (Ben Schnetzer) who holds meetings at the Soho bookstore of flamboyant Jonathan (Dominic West) and his partner Gethin (Andrew Scott). Next thing you know, this LGSM ("Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners") contingent go marching off to the Welsh village of Onllwyn in the Dulais valley to show their support.
The joke is that these Welsh miners are about the most homophobic group our LDSM friends could ever hope to encounter. But Mark gets the idea of breaking through the icy reception with a benefit concern, a Billy Elliot kind of dance recital that cheers up the dour townsfolk and lifts everyone’s spirits. You know, like in "Footloose."
Many funny moments arise from the uncomfortable situations of these diverse groups learning to work together. This unlikely pairing is the feel-good payoff of the film (because in real life Thatcher crushed the miners’ strike).
All your favorite British character actors here: Bill Nighy ("Love Actually") in an understated performance as a thoughtful council member; Paddy Considine ("Hot Fuzz") as the envoy sent to London to meet with the LGSM; Imelda Staunton ("Vera Drake") as the leader of the committee; Jessica Gunning ("That Day We Sang") as a tea lady with a feisty attitude; Menna Trussler ("Undertaking Betty") as a bespectacled old biddy; and Lisa Palfrey ("Guest House Paradiso") as a miner's wife who creates trouble with a homophobic glee.
Normally known as a Broadway director, Matthew Warchus ("Ghost: The Musical") helms this gay pride parade with great wit and style. Leave it to him to turn a dismal period in British history into an uplifting story.
As one moviegoer summed it up: "If you don’t laugh, don’t shed a tear, or don’t want to get up and cheer at the end, then you weren’t paying attention during this movie."