Pride is inspired by an extraordinary true story. It’s the summer of 1984, Margaret Thatcher is in power and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families. Initially rebuffed by the Union, the group identifies a tiny mining village in Wales and sets off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” That quote from Martin Luther King Jr. perfectly encapsulates the scenario that finds a group of gay activists raising money to help a small mining village in Wales.
As presented by Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer), London’s LGBT community had a duty to help others being oppressed by their government, since they knew what the miners were experiencing from years of similar treatment. When that group, eventually known as Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, experiences some resistance from the National Union of Mineworkers, the activists redirect their efforts to specifically help the small mining village of Onllwyn in Wales, where many of the village’s citizens cautiously but gratefully start to accept them.
As far as uplifting films involving the LGBT community go, Pride may be one of the most effective. There’s a spirit that drives the characters, and the bonds that the main characters from both LGSM and the village make gives hope that these sorts of connections can still happen between oppressed peoples.
In order to appeal to as many people as possible, the film does shy away from elements that might turn audiences away. In terms of sexuality, it’s referenced but not really demonstrated. The film also paints its characters in rather broad strokes. When LGSM first arrives in Onllwyn, the women of the town are (largely) welcome to embracing them, but the men only come around when they’re shamed into it or figure they can get something out of acceptance.
What makes it work is an utterly talented cast. While there are a few names included in the cast who might have some recognition (namely Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Dominic West), this isn’t a star-studded cast. Thankfully. The talent here is astonishing. Among the younger actors who make up the bulk of LGSM, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of them break out in the next few years.
What’s most striking about Pride is how it simultaneously demonstrates how much progress society has made over the past three decades, and how much things have stayed the same with some people. Though it’s largely uplifting, there are a few moments that effectively cut through to remind of the plight the LGBT community faced. One quick scene involving Ashton and another man played by Russell Tovey particularly stands out as a shadow of what the gay community was just starting to face in the 80s.
As a crowdpleaser, Pride certainly accomplishes its job. It’s also strong enough to possibly educate some viewers about issues still pertinent today.
Rather than focus on LGBT elements to the film, because the name gives it away, I want to take this section to mention the rating. Pride is just the latest example this year, following films like Love is Strange and G.B.F., to garner an R rating in spite of having content that should warrant a PG-13. There’s far less that should be offensive to young audiences here than in Dracula Untold, also out this week, though that film was rated PG-13.