If the idea of Dominic West dancing to win over a group of stuffy homophobic miners makes you laugh, chances are you’ll enjoy Pride. A historical comedy that looks back at a group of lesbian and gay activists who supported the miners during the strikes of the 1980s, director Matthew Warchus and writer Stephen Beresford have combined to create something similar in tone to The Full Monty, but much funnier.
While watching the news about the miners strikes, young and passionate activist Mark (Ben Schnetzer) tries to round up support to help provide funding to those in need. He gathers a small band and sets about to find a mining village to help. After initially fruitless attempts to go through the miners’ union, he contacts the small Welsh town of Onllwyn and arranges for his team to go and visit them, but faces stiff opposition and resistance from both sides.
Pride is something of a modern fable of storytelling. It’s magical realism works so well with the big, serious themes that it portrays from bullying to societal pressure through the gambit of bigotry and politics. It brazenly flits from one theme to the next at breakneck speed and armed with a cast of archetypal characters, each with a rounded arc of development and something interesting to say.
The cast are brilliant from the firebrand Mark at the centre, through the young and as yet free Joe (George MacKay) all the way to the snippy and gruff drama queen Jonathan (Dominic West on fine form). Everyone is dealing with their own problems in their own way, but Mark’s desire to help out everyone brings the story together in a wonderfully hokey and yet acidic way. They are supported by some brilliant turns from old hands Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy, who provide some real gravitas and stop Pride from floating away into the atmosphere with outrageous commentary and fluff.
On a base level it pushes the theme of respect to your common man, but then drops into the aforementioned Footloose-a-like dance routine and leaves its audience to mull over the basics of each argument without ever becoming too heavily bogged down in the minute details. It drifts cleverly into emotional heft before switching to light relief and the rate at which the jokes and themes are thrown at the audience leaves little room for criticism or deconstruction.
The disparate groups all realise that behind the oppression and nastiness there are many reasons to be thankful of help from wherever it comes and the fact that it’s loosely based in reality makes the story even more incredible.