Pride: Matthew Warchus’ Winning Tale of Gays and Mine Strikers (GLBTQ)

pride_posterMatthew Warchus, better known for his theater work, makes an impressive leap forward as a film director with “Pride,” a charming and poignant film that captures a unique moment in history.

At its Cannes Film Fest world premiere, “Pride” received standing ovation and cheers from quite a diverse group of viewers, some young or students.

The idea of a union between working class miners and lesbians and gays sounds bizarre, absurd, if not downright  improbable. But that’s exactly what happened in 1984, during the height of the Iron lady (Margaret Thatcher) regime, when a group called Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners raise money for a small Welsh community during the miners’ strike, resulting in a poignant coalition and greater mutual understanding.

Gay Directors, Gay Films? By Emanuel Levy (Columbia University Press, August 2015).

Living up to its title, the movie will make you feel good to be alive and alert to political matters outside your narrow and immediate socio-economic interests. And if you happen to be gay or lesbian, Pride will make you feel proud (or prouder) of your sexual orientation.

Many of the characters portrayed in the film are based on real-life activists, some of whom attended the showing in Cannes.

pride_3The protagonist-narrator, though is a fictional character named Joe (George Mackay), a middle class gay man who is not completely out. Joe introduces himself with the words “The thing is, I’m from Bromley…”

Several of the terrific cast members are distinguished actors on the order of Paddy Considine, Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton (“Vera Drake”), and Bill Nighy, known for his comedic performances (too many to name here) but here cast almost against type as an elderly historian, who has buried a secret.

Ben Schnetzer is excellent as Mark, the most committed activist, and Dominic West is equally impressive as Jonathan, an actor with some great disco moves.

The film’s very last scene, which depicts the Welsh miners, with historic banners and brass band, as they lead the 1985 gay pride march through the streets of multi-cultural London is so touching that it may reduce you to tears.

pride_2Since this heroic saga took place three decades ago, the end captions, offering updates on the lives of the real-life participants, is a very good idea.



End Note:

Matthew Warchus is the successor of disgraced American actor Kevin Spacey as artistic director of the prestigious Old Vic theater.