Pride can’t be missed. Be prepared to both laugh and wipe tears from your eyes. What a pity it isn’t required viewing for all Roman Catholic Cardinals.
Director Michael Warchus’ Pride is not simply a magnificent film, but I must say that it stands out as the best picture I’ve seen in 2014. Dancing in the same league as Begin Again, it represents film making done at its very best.
Taking place largely in Wales in 1984, the cinematography by Tat Radcliffe is as breathtaking as the stunning musical score by Christopher Nightingale. Based on a true story, it centers on the gay rights movement joining forces with striking British miners who are collectively being beleaguered by Margaret Thatcher’s insensitive government.
The miners’ union is led by a number of spectacular actors who you will embrace from the moment that you see them. Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Paddy Considine once again are pitch perfect, here playing union activists who try to convince reluctant colleagues that they have nothing to fear by teaming up with their gay supporters.
Also, remember the names Jessica Gunning and Nenna Tressler. Ms. Tressler’s character, Gwen, has a beautiful moment when she yells excitedly, “Where are my lesbians”, while Ms. Gunning’s Sian goes on to make a name for herself in Parliament.
However, it is the members of the gay community who will warm your heart. Ben Schnetzer plays Mark, an Irish organizer who leads the gay movement. He joins forces with the eccentric Jonathan (Dominic West) and his partner, Gethin (Andrew Scott), to spur their activist group to raise funds for the miners. In the process, Joe (George MacKay), a passive ally, returns to a Welsh homeland he left 18 years ago after suffering massive abuse for his sexuality. His reunion with his mother is one of the most powerful moments you will see on film.
There are some other memorable performances, one coming from Freddie Fox. He does a great job playing Jeff, a young college student wrestling with his sexuality who has to suffer ostracism by his own family in order to be true to himself. Additionally, Faye Marsay is a chain-smoking lesbian (Steph) with a red hairstyle to die for. First and foremost, she was a young woman who took crap from no one.
The movie’s climax happens in two stages, and it made you come close to applauding at the end of the film. Let me just say that when union cynics try to reject the support of gay friends, a gigantic “Gay Pride/Miners Concert” is held that will make you wish you were on screen dancing with them.
While I doubt that the film will be recognized at Oscar time, it should be on the music alone. There is a moment at the union hall when our two groups were still trying to feel each other out. Suddenly, a young woman associated with the miners stands up and sings one of the most poignant songs you will ever hear. The crowd slowly stands up and joins her, and at that moment you know that you are watching a film that makes the cinema so special.