Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Love and pride

I initially resisted PRIDE imagining it to be another of those fake, feel-good dramas which use real events and change everything. There may be an element of that here, but PRIDE works and is a deeply enjoyable, heartfelt, emotional ride through that miners strike which polarised British society in that early 1980s age of Thatcher. A great music soundtrack (Bronski Beat, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, King et al) adds to the perfect period detail. Add in a slew of British actors at the top of their game, and it makes for a marvellous viewing experience, as directed by Matthew Warchus and written by Stephen Beresford. 

In 1984 20 year old closet gay Joe hesitantly arrives in London from Bromley for his first Gay Pride march and is taken under the collective wing of a group of gay men and Lesbian Steph, who meet at flamboyant Jonathan and his Welsh partner Gethin's Soho bookshop. Not only are gays being threatened by Thatcher but the miners are on strike in response to her pit closures and Northern Irish activist Mark Ashton believes gays and miners should show solidarity. Soon a mini-bus full of gays find themselves in the Welsh village of Onllwyn in the Dulais valley and through their sincere fund raising and Jonathan's nifty disco moves persuade most of the community that they are on the same side.
 When a bigot tries to sabotage the partnership with a tabloid smear Mark turns it back on her with a hugely successful benefit concert to which most of the villagers, now thoroughly in tune with their gay friends, turn up. The miners are defeated and return to work but at the Pride march in 1985 they turn up to add their support to their gay friends.

This is not all feel-good stuff, as we take in a family not accepting their gay son, the Miners' refusal to fully support the LBGT community when the going gets tougher, the start of AIDS and the knowledge that these men's lives will never be the same, the occasional violence shown to the gay men, as Gethin (Andrew Scott) gets beaten up and finally gets back with his estranged mother. 
We also take in The Gays The Word Bookshop, the Vauxhall Tavern pub, and other gay London landmarks. The scenes in Wales are amusing and heartfelt too, as the locals get to meet the gays and bigotry soon becomes, in almost all cases, friendship. It is nice to see Imelda Staunton doing her thing and Bill Nighy playing a real character role for once. Dominic West and Andrew Scott are terrific, as are most of the cast, Freddie Fox is in there too. The pride ball and 1985 gay pride festival are covered too. Its a comedy, a social document and very emotional. Ok, I loved it. File next to those other British successes like BILLY ELLIOTT (also dealing with the miners' strike), SHIRLEY VALENTINE, BRASSED OFF, THE FULL MONTY etc. 
We also see in the closing credits how the lead characters fares - Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer), the young activist died 2 years later in 1987. He features in footage in the dvd extras on the story of the film's background, as does the real Dominic West character, and Sian, the Welsh MP. 
Next: gay television drama at its best: episode 6 of CUCUMBER and a hilarious American documentary on Mormon husbands: MY HUSBAND IS NOT GAY. No, he suffers from 'SSA': Same Sex Attraction, which is not gay at all ...


  1. Loved this one too. Pride was delightful, and moving, and the 1980s setting brought me back to my own coming out.
    And we were just treated to a couple of teaser episodes of Cucumber and Banana on Logo TV here in the U.S. Can't wait to see more, it is so much fun!

  2. I deliberately avoided reading the CUCUMBER/BANANA stuff until I catch up. Do you watch LOOKING? The second series is really good. I agree about PRIDE being a great feel-good movie with some superb acting and a terrific script, (which just lost out on my best original screenplay prize last year). I almost bought it last weekend. Perhaps I will this weekend! :)