The 1980s was a tumultuous time for gays and lesbians. There was still a considerable amount of animosity towards homosexuals, profanities and violence were persistent experiences, and a lack of understanding surrounding AIDS resulted in a progressive fear. Yet as they fought for their own equality, one gay and lesbian group in the UK chose to support another persecuted part of society - a troubled Welsh village direly affected by the long-running miner's union strike. As the two very different communities came to accept each other, their lives begin to intertwine in a remarkable and lasting manner.
This is the practically unimaginable plot of 'Pride' - and yet the most surprising part is, it's all entirely true. Still, this isn't a film to let history get the better of it; the focus lies firmly on the people at the forefront who have so much at stake, and those willing to get their hands dirty to make a difference.
There is an absolute hoard of characters involved in this tale, and yet it never becomes so immense as to make the story unruly. That's probably because every individual is such a unique and distinctive character, with minimal reliance on stereotypes. Ben Schnetzer ('The Book Thief') plays Mark, the leader of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, with his close friend Mike (Joseph Gilgun, 'Misfits'), newest member Joe (George MacKay, 'How I Live Now'), the group's only lesbian Steph (Faye Marsay, 'Fresh Meat') and couple Jonathan (Dominic West, 'The Wire') and Gethin (Andrew Scott, 'Sherlock'). From the village are the miner's spokesman Dai (Paddy Considine, 'The Bourne Ultimatum') stoic Cliff (Bill Nighy, 'About Time'), the fiery Sian (Jessica Gunning, 'Law & Order: UK'), headstrong Hefina (Imelda Staunton, 'Harry Potter' series) and well-meaning Gwen (Menna Trussler), all elemental in the running of the town committee.
And they're just the main players - there really is such a rich tapestry of characters involved in this story. The miraculous thing is, all of them fill their role superbly; there's really not a line out of place. It is a marvel in casting, seamlessly blending well-known names with undiscovered talent. If I had to play favourites, then Ben Schnetzer is outstanding as the film's driving force and the closest thing to our main character, George MacKay as our conduit into the group is brilliant to watch growing from a timid rabbit to confident hero, and Dominic West's dance scene is both utterly hilarious and completely cringeworthy at the same time. On the other side of the fence, Paddy Considine is exceptional and gets completely lost in his character, and Jessica Gunning's countenance makes her riveting in every scene.
'Pride' never attempts to neatly slot itself into one genre.
'Pride' never attempts to neatly slot itself into one genre. On the surface, it appears to be a gay rights film, but it's so much more than that. It's a historical piece, a comedy, a coming-of-age film, a political drama, a tear-jerker. All of these elements blend together perfectly in Stephen Beresford's screenplay, a concise and considered piece of work for what could have been just another bland, soulless film based on a true story. The result is a heartwarming movie, weaving in details of the riotous Thatcher era and a strike which kept the world talking for months.
In the end, this isn't a film about same-sex rights, it's about the power of friendship. If two seemingly polar opposite groups like miners and gay and lesbian campaigners can find common ground, it's proof that, ultimately, we're all the same. The truth of this story sends a vital message, without an overdose of morality, and for that reason alone it deserves to be heard. Yet there's so much more than that; the honesty, persistence and optimism of 'Pride' can be practically guaranteed to warm even the most callous of hearts.