Much like Brassed Off or The Full Monty, Pride is one of those true-life comedy-dramas that the British film industry seem to do so well. Set in the forlorn working class industrial ruins that were the days of Thatcherite Britain, the film follows the unlikely alliance formed between the population of a small Welsh mining village and a motley crew of gay and lesbian activists from London during the height of the 1984 Miners’ Strike. Friendships and human connections are formed due to the similarities in the way they have been oppressed by the media and conservatives.
Directed with vitality and genuine heart by theatre alum Matthew Warchus, (who directed the recent Matilda adaptation and will soon succeed Kevin Spacey as artistic director at the Old Vic), Pride provides a razor sharp balance between funny, sad and affecting.
Much of the success must also be attributed to writer Stephen Beresford, whose punchy script juggles a number of narrative threads and finds humour in areas that may not seem obvious, while offering smaller genuinely intimate moments for the varied cast. The humour may often be broad, but the characters are all given a natural depth and humanity that gives them an endearing quality and renders the inevitable defrosting of the relationships all the more heart-warming.
And what a cast it is, an impressive roster of British (and American) talent, with Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine and Imelda Staunton all shining as Welsh Union members, while Fay Marsay, Dominic West, and Ben Schnetzer stand out as members of the LGSM. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with the Jessica Gunning standing out as the pro-active and lovely Sian and George MacKay as the innocent and wide eyed young Joe, who is thrust into this world almost by accident and through whose eyes we experience the story.
As the bonds are formed and strengthened, the real backbone of the film becomes apparent, mostly casting aside the politics in favour of a focus on the value of friendships and finding a sense of belonging and unity; of shared interests and the similarities we all share. Amongst all the laughter it’s hard not to become a tad misty eyed, particularly as the film reaches its natural and touching denouement.
Warm and endearing from start to finish, Pride is one of the better British comedies of recent years thanks to a sharp script and a uniformly excellent cast. And while the issues in the film may on the surface seem very much of their time, there is still a pertinence to present day events, particularly in how two apparently wildly dissimilar groups or communities may find a common ground and unity if only they just bothered to try.
Oh, and it has a cracking soundtrack.