"Pride" film review
The thing about “Pride” is that normally you would expect it to be a drama. It’s dealing with very serious political and societal issues. It’s dealing with miners’ strikes, privatisations, severe poverty, sexuality, homophobia, AIDS. Instead, it is a comedy. And a very funny and emotional one.
The story is about the miners’ strikes in Britain, following privatisations and closures of mines under Mrs Thatcher’s government. A very small number of gays and lesbians decide to form the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) group and raise money for the miners who were in severe financial difficulties due to the ongoing strike. They decide to do so once they realise that they had one thing in common with the miners. Both the gays and the miners were persecuted by the police, they were rejected by the establishment, they were powerless. So, LGSM realised that they must show solidarity to other persecuted communities. They must stick together and support each other in times of need.
So LGSM start collecting money in the streets of London and they pick a mining village in Wales to donate it to. Once they arrive, the miners are extremely skeptical, most of them have never seen another gay person in their entire lives. At the same time, they need the money and LGSM are very persistent about offering their help.
And the story moves on, LGSM collect more and more money for the miners, the miners are more and more accepting of the gays and lesbians, until they all finally become friends.
There are several stories within the main story. There is a bigoted woman, there is a secretly gay elderly miner, there is a gay man whose mother does not speak to him, there is man with AIDS, there is a young gay boy trying to come out but rejected by his family. All these side-stories could have been the subject of a film each by itself. But they are just presented here almost as “small things”, as a part of reality that is just there. I guess they are just meant to represent life. Just everyday life.
One of the successes of this film is that it tackles all these issues with humour. It manages to present all these depressing issues very matter-of-factly, like, this is how things are and we will make the most of it. And all this while being very funny.
Another interesting thing was that there was no sex involved. Usually films on lesbians and gays are themed around falling in love and around sex, mostly purposely in order to raise awareness and break taboos. “Pride”, on the other hand, had none of these. It was just a film that, as a friend of mine put it, “just happened to have gays in it”.
Finally, the gays and the lesbians on the one side and the miners on the other side, two communities that were so visually and behaviourally different at the beginning of the film, gradually merge and reach a point where they are completely indistinguishable. They are no longer defined by the community in which they initially belonged, but they are just…well…just people. Nice people. And this is the biggest victory of the film. It is one of the most important universal messages, that meeting, actually taking the time to spend some time with, a person of another race, ethnicity, gender, class is all that it takes to break any prejudices. And it might be a cliché, but a bloody good one that should be made as often as possible.
So I really liked this film. A film full of gays that is not about gays. A film dealing with serious issues in a funny way. I laughed a lot. I cried a little. I left with a massive smile on my face and my spirit uplifted.
So… strongly recommended. Go and watch it. And West End producers, if you reading this, start working on the musical please!
I was lucky enough to watch “Pride” at the avant-premiere organized by The Belgian Pride. Screenings of the movie will start in Brussels on 5 November 2014 at the UGC cinemas.