Tuesday, April 26, 2016

DVD of the Week: Pride

It's strange to think of the 1980s as "history". As I commented when I was talking about Deutschland '83, the 1980s is my childhood - the music, the telly, the politics and look, I'm not that bloody old! But it's completely alien to Ewan, for instance, to talk about Nuclear War, or in the case of this weeks movie Pride, the struggle for Gay Rights, or the Miners Strike. The former, I must admit, I was only dimly aware of until I got to university, but with the Durham Coalfield to the North and the Yorkshire Pits to the South, the latter pretty much local news even in the death of the Teeside Steel Industry was the more immediate to my family. But even without that direct awareness, I do suspect it was all slightly less cosy than this film offers. 

Pride is about the true story of the group "Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners", which back in 1984 raised money within the London Gay community to support Welsh Miners stuggling to survive during the dispute. Even on the surface it's a strange thing - one group fighting it's own struggle reaching out to support another, and more to the point, one where the presumption is that they wouldn't really welcome that support anyway. But the film is far less interested in telling a story of friction, and really wants to tell a warmhearted story about people coming to together to bring out the best in each other, and on this level it succeeds massively. 

On the whole, Pride is a delight. It's full of charming actors, has a great script, and hits a lot of familiar beats cleanly without ever overstaying it's welcome on any given plot point. The word that leaps to mind again and again is "lovely" - it's full of lovely people, being lovely. It combines that with a stirring shout-out to collective action, to the power of people moving together to change the world, both in the subtext and then explicitly voiced at the end. It's has a lot of heart, and it's all in the right place. 

That said, it does feel like a film with the rough edges filed off. There is none of the bitterness that pervades, say, Brassed Off, and to be honest none of the bitterness that still lingers in mining communities thirty years on. Similarly the struggles of the Gay community, and looming AIDS crisis, sit in the background of the film, and make appearances, (so I'm not for a moment suggesting they're ignored) but they're often sped past, or framed in supportive contexts, or just happen off-screen. The  closest thing it has to a villian barely has a single dimension and is so quickly isolated I almost - almost - felt sorry for her. I'd hestitate to call it a criticism of the film - it's simply not what the film is about - but it is a distinctly cuddly view of a dark time for both communities. 

But I'm here to praise Pride. It is warm and funny and moving, and yes, its full of archetypes moving through a story you've seen before, but it's done extremely well, and it's telling an important story with an important message. I enjoyed it a great deal, and I'd recommend it to anyone.