Set in 1984, Pride is the true story of the Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners campaign – a group of gay and lesbian activists who raised money for a Welsh mining community during the strike, initially facing hostility from the villagers but gradually becoming accepted, united by the common enemy of Thatcherism.
This British comedy-drama will seem familiar to fans of The Full Monty, Brassed Off or Billy Elliot, which would include pretty much anyone with a heart. But what’s surprising is how joyfully effective Pride remains from beginning to end, managing to stay just the right side of saccharine throughout. The true story is affectionately told in a way that’s simultaneously celebratory, funny and moving. Most films like this might make you cry once or possibly twice, but here every single scene is a tearjerker. You have been warned.
For this, the performances are to blame – a hugely likeable ensemble, bringing sensitivity and passion to Stephen Beresford’s touchingly human screenplay. The gay and lesbian group features Andrew Scott, Ben Schnetzer and a scene-stealing Dominic West, while the Welsh villagers include Paddy Considine, Jessica Gunning and the expertly understated Bill Nighy, who says more with a single twitch than most actors could deliver in an entire monologue.
These two groups of people, from very different walks of life, are brought together by their mutual resentment of a government that has systematically bullied them for their class or sexuality. Films like this don’t really have to skew political events to suit the drama – they can just portray exactly what happened, with characters being so clearly mistreated that the audience has no choice but to root for them. Touching on other issues such as gender equality and HIV, Pride celebrates the underdog in their struggle against the intimidating and the powerful – and all to a fun ’80s soundtrack, from Frankie Goes to Hollywood to Billy Bragg.
With its big heart and uplifting spirit, Pride is destined to become a British classic, impressively sincere in its politics but unashamedly feel-good in its execution. Almost every moment would be fairly cringeworthy in a lesser film, but thanks to Matthew Warchus’ warm direction, it would take a heart as black as coal not to be moved by Pride‘s great performances, impassioned speeches and even a spontaneous sing-song. This is Wales after all. Joyously telling a little-known but undeniably important true story, Pride effectively fills in all the gaps in The Iron Lady where the political events should have been.