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"PRIDE"
(2014) (Ben Schnetzer, George MacKay) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Gay and lesbian activists descend on a small Welsh town in the 1980s in hopes of lending morale and financial support to the miners who are on strike there.
PLOT:
It's 1984 and 20-year-old college student Joe (GEORGE MacKAY) has yet to inform anyone, let alone his parents, that he's gay. Nonetheless, he decides to join a gay pride parade in London and it's there that he meets a number of gay rights activists, including Mark (BEN SCHNETZER). He's the most outspoken of a small group of likeminded people -- that includes Mike (JOSEPH GILGUN) and their lone lesbian member, Steph (FAYE MARSAY) -- who regularly meet in the gay bookshop owned by the flamboyant actor Jonathan (DOMINIC WEST) and his more reserved partner, Gethin (ANDREW SCOTT).

Seeing that they have a common enemy alongside striking miners against Margaret Thatcher and her police force that routinely harasses them, Mark proposes that they form the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) group and raise money for the beleaguered workers. To do so, they choose the small town of Onllwyn in South Wales, with local mining representative Dai (PADDY CONSIDINE) paying them a visit to offer his thanks for their support and the money they've raised.

In turn, Mark decides their group should travel to the town, something local miner Martin (RHODRI MEILIR) thinks is a dicey proposition, although his wife, Sian (JESSICA GUNNING), welcomes them with open arms. The same holds true for others, including Hefina (IMELDA STAUNTON), Cliff (BILL NIGHY) and Gwen (MENNA TRUSSLER), but they get pushback from others, especially Cliff's former sister-in-law, Maureen (LISA PALFREY), an angry woman who's imparted her bigoted mindset to her sons. But others, such as miner Carl (KYLE REES), see that the local women like the way Jonathan dances and figures he could emulate that to impress the ladies, and thus Mark and his group start to settle in with the locals in working on their unified cause.

But with the likes of Maureen still causing problems, it's uncertain how long the gay and lesbian activists will be welcome there, and whether their actions will help the miners during their strike.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
Everyone knows the old saying about politics making for strange bedfellows, and that's seen year in and year out, especially during the election cycles. Other circumstances often bring together two or more otherwise disparate groups who join forces to take on a common foe or accomplish a task or goal that is beneficial for both sides.

One of the more unusual ones occurred back in the 1980s in South Wales when a group of gay and lesbian activists decided to lend their moral and financial support to a small town of miners on strike over British government plans to close down a number of coal mines and pits. The activists saw the common enemy being the government and thus descended upon the remote locale and, to the surprise of many considering the various striking-- no pun intended-- differences between them, they formed a unified front.

Squarely falling into the fact is stranger than fiction category, the tale of such an unlikely alliance arrives this week on the screen as the dramedy "Pride." Director Matthew Warchus works from a script by Stephen Beresford and delivers what may be the feel-good movie of the fall.

With equal parts comedy and drama -- both stemming from the differences in sexuality and views and reactions thereof -- the story (just like the real life incident) seems far-fetched, but all involved manage to pull it off in a fairly entertaining and enlightening offering.

More to come...




Reviewed October 2, 2014 / Posted October 10, 2014


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