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Pride – Movie Review

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Pride – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

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As long as there are groups of people who are unaccepted by society, stories like the one in Pride will continue to remain relevant. This film strikes the right balance of comedy and drama without overdoing the message and each character feels genuine in their portrayal. While the story goes through the expected steps, director Matthew Warchus keeps the whole production moving and hits the right notes. While there were likely some artistic liberties, as usually happens with movies based on real-life events, nothing feels too preposterous. Cast a talented group of actors and treat the people with respect and this is solid, crowd-pleasing little movie.

Filmmakers have a tendency to focus heavily on the effeminate stereotype, when portraying homosexuals. While those exist, it seems obviously exaggerated in the media. In Pride, the homosexual characters are portrayed as people who just happen to be gay and trying to survive at a time when they are discriminated against. This all fits into the main plot of the gay community banding together to help a town of striking miners, who are themselves fighting against a government for different reasons. There’s a relatability they find with them, which fuels the story and their goals. The screenplay, written by Stephen Beresford, mimes subtle humour out of this situation. A lot of what makes the film work is how it knocks down stereotypes and expectations. We expect the filmmakers to portray the gay and lesbian protagonists in the way they’re so often seen by the media and the movie never does that. This is similar to the miners, who are surprised when they roll into their little town and find out they are not so different from themselves.

While Pride clearly wants to give a message about equal rights, the script never beats you over the head with it. These are just people who want to live a life without discrimination and help those who are being similarly targeted by the government. It’s helped by every character being well-rounded and likeable. There’s a notion when watching these people that you’re also hanging out and getting to know them. There’s a warm friendliness among this band of misfits that makes it easy to understand why they’re happily welcomed into the mining community so quickly. However, the screenplay does not simply make them a bunch of happy-go-lucky heroes with no flaws. The lead character Mark has his own inner turmoils, but in the end, he means well and wants what’s best for both the gay and mining communities. Joe, an aspiring photographer, represents those stuck by life’s obstacles, wanting to help the cause but restricted by the prejudices faced by those who don’t.

The same applies to the townsfolk of this small Southern Welsh town our leads align themselves with. Imelda Staunton delivers her usual great work, managing to be both stern and motherly at the same time and Bill Nighy gives a delightful supporting turn as we come to expect from him. Paddy Considine brings a certain nebbish quality befitting his character and Jessica Gunning shows a lot of bubbly enthusiasm. Admittedly, the main antagonist, the only member of the town council opposed to the gay community arriving in their little village, is a tad one-dimensional. However, Lisa Palfrey brings an iciness to the role that makes her perfect to hate and unfortunately, people with those sorts of biased prejudices still exist in the twenty-first century.

Pride is the kind of true-life story that works as a crowd-pleasing movie without feeling the need to become overly sentimental and schmaltzy. The messages in Pride have since become the norm as homosexuals are a lot more respected now than they were in 1984. However, these stories still need to told and Pride does it nicely. It doesn’t fall into the expected stereotypes and showcases real people fighting for a good cause on more than one issue in an earlier time not so long ago. That might make it seem like an issues film and a historical document, but it should work even for those unfamiliar with the British miner’s strike.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison

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