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Aug

Film review: Pride

pride movieBased on a true story, British film Pride explores what happened when a small group of politically-motivated lesbians and gay men set out to show support for striking miners by raising funds during the infamous miners' strike of 1984. The story begins at the London Gay Pride march in the summer of that year when Mark (Ben Schnetzer) starts rattling buckets to solicit funds for the striking coal workers. Others join him, and later that year at Gay's The Word bookshop in Bloomsbury, the group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) is born.

Their initial enquiries to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) meet with no response, and they realise their support is perhaps not as welcome as they first imagined. They decide to target one particular mining town in the Welsh valleys and to personally connect with its inhabitants – facilitated by one grateful striker, Dai (Paddy Considine). Though LGSM initially receives a frosty welcome from some of the village locals, the two disparate groups come to realise that they perhaps have more in common than they first imagined: not least in the way they have both been demonised by the right-wing press and Thatcher government.

Written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus, Pride shines a light on a largely forgotten but ultimately significant episode of the 1984 miners' strike. The support shown by LGSM ultimately helped to prod the UK trade union movement into throwing its weight behind LGBT rights. If that sounds a somewhat dry and worthy subject matter for a film, rest assured that Pride is anything but. Yes, the film-makers have taken some dramatic licence and have played up the whole culture clash between the Welsh mining community and visiting gay urbanites, but thanks to a terrific ensemble cast (Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Dominic West, among others) and a script bursting with arresting characters and personal journeys, Pride is a moving and inspiring tale that impressively conjures up a lost moment in LGBT history. Special credit must go to actor Schnetzer (wholly unrecognisable from his recent role in The Book Thief), who plays LGSM leader, Mark Ashton and whom Communards singer Jimmy Somerville was to later dedicate the song, 'For A Friend'. Some of the set pieces might seem a little clunky, but Pride is a film big in heart that serves to remind us how different the world was 30 years ago, when the threat of AIDS hung like a guillotine over the gay scene and 'coming out' often resulted in complete alienation from one's family.

LGBT viewers, whatever their age, will need little encouragement to bond with the themes of this film, indeed if you arrived in London at any time in the 80s, many of the film's references – and fashions – are likely to strike a chord. Encouragingly, Pride's success in May at the Cannes Film Festival would suggests that the film will touch a nerve with a much wider audience. This gem of a movie deserves mainstream success. David Hudson
On release: 12 September 2014
Rating: **** (4/5 stars)

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