“Pride,” a new British film that mixes gay rights, a miner’s strike and the Bronski Beat, isn’t so much a movie as it is an anthem, à la Tom Robinson’s foot stomping tune “Glad to Be Gay.”
It’s the true story of an unlikely alliance, a bond between a group of Camden Town lesbian and gay activists and the miners of a village in Wales. The catalyst for the story is Mark (Ben Schnetzer), a young gay man who feels the government is bullying The National Union of Mineworkers just as homophobic Londoners had pushed him around. As the union is at the cusp of a strike that would become a year-long battle against widespread pit closures, he rallies his friends to raise money. Dubbed the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, they work the streets, collecting hundreds of pounds. Trouble is the miners don’t want the money. At least at first.
Afraid to be associated with a gay group The National Union of Mineworkers won’t even return Mark’s phone calls. When he directly contacts Dai (Paddy Considine), a union rep in a Welsh village, he finally finds someone who understands the meaning of solidarity.
“Pride” tells an interesting and important story, and does so with terrific performances. Considine brings dignity and intellect to Dai, Dominic West is colorful and compassionate as LGSM member Jonathan and Bill Nighy, as Cliff, the seemingly uptight Welsh town father, displays the effortless charm and grace that makes him the go-to for eccentric English characters.
When it works, it works terrifically well. A near silent scene between Nighy and Imelda Staunton, lifelong friends and workers for the union cause, is wonderfully under-played. It’s touching, joyful and perfect.
The rest of “Pride” is pitched somewhere in tone between the industrial comedies of “Kinky Boots” and “The Full Monty.” Relentlessly upbeat, it favors broad comedy and is occasionally earnest but it doesn’t skimp on the social history. Despite its sense of fun it delves into the lives of each of these groups. The story might be painted in broad strokes, but it isn’t afraid to tackle topics like homophobia, AIDS and intolerance.