FILM REVIEW: Pride (BFI Flare – London)

Pride

3.5*

Pride is one of those films that got tagged with “feel good.” Some people may flock to films thus named. I’m not one of them. It makes me slightly uneasy and wary of an onslaught of jaunty music and montages. “Pride” has both jaunty music and montage, but uses both in such a manner that you can’t help but be swept up and taken along for the ride. “Pride” tells a story I felt ashamed I didn’t know; that of the a group called ‘Lesbians and Gays who support the miners’ who raise money for the striking miners and travel directly to Wales to give the funds to the village when the union refuse to pass it on. An unlikely alliance forms between the two groups who both feel unjustly treated by the government and this results in an incredible show of support and friendship and ultimately in making a difference.

It’s one of those stories that feels made up, so perfect is it for film. I’m a little surprised it hasn’t been told until now. The film tells the story and carefully gives you a number of different characters to follow and become involved in but it does this so well, it never feels difficult to keep track or that your focus is on one character more than the others. Ok, so Joe AKA Bromley (George Mackay) is the character that guides us through the story and into the gay scene of 1984 London. He is young, not out and inadvertently walks into a protest which catapaults him into the paths (literally and figuratively!) of Mark (Ben Schnetzer) and others, which is how the story begins. But any of the characters, both in the “Lesbians and Gays support the Miners” or those in the Welsh mining village itself has a story of interest and “Pride” allows the audience to invest in a lot of these without feeling like it is spreading itself too wide or that the characters are thinly drawn. These are fleshed out and not just devices to push the message of the film. My one complaint is that I’d like more focus on the female characters. I felt like it veered slightly towards negative stereotypes in its representation of lesbians, which was disappointing.

There are some really light, very fun and thoroughly enjoyable scenes in the movie that are just a delight to watch and look like they would have been a blast to film (Dominic West as Jonathan, disco diva-ing to “Shame Shame Shame” is worth the ticket price alone, seriously!) but it deals with the spectre of AIDS and homophobia with a deftness that always avoids cliché and histronics. It shows the stark reality in a measured manner, which is the real power of “Pride” as a film. Yes, you absolutely will feel good during and after watching but you’re also very clear as to how far we have come from the 1980s but also how far we still have to go.

(C) Sarah Robertson 2015

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