The Buzz on Pride

Dateline, 1984.  This is the Margaret Thatcher era in Great Britain, and for striking miners and gay activists, times are pretty rough.  But the miners in this true story are Welsh, rural, and culturally conservative. The London gays are urban, hip, and stylin.’  The two cadres would seem to have very little in common beyond their shared enmity for the Iron Lady, the police, and the mainstream press.  Is this enough to bear the weight of a sudden coalition?

Based on real events, the historical comic drama Pride tells the story of a group of gay rights activists who decide to take up the cause of striking workers in a struggling mining town in south Wales’ coal-seamed Dulais Valley.  The miners – no champions of gay rights themselves – never asked for this, and they’re not at all sure they want it.  So it’s up to the urbanites from London to persuade the dour labor leaders they can do some good, and that the two groups actually share authentic common ground.  And yes, those are the distant strains of The Full Monty and Made in Dagenham you’re picking up – Pride will ring some bells.  What keeps it fresh is less the plot than the film’s irrepressibly “infectious high spirits” (NPR) and its stunningly well- rounded performances by some of England’s best-loved actors, like Paddy Considine (as an embattled union leader), and Bill Nighy (as the union secretary) and Imelda Staunton (as a smalltown mother hen).  Relative newcomer, Ben Schnetzer, as the charismatic, ebullient gay leader Mark Ashton (yes, he was in The Book Thief, but you probably won’t recognize him), keeps us watching closely, too.  Is it director Matthew Warchus’s long career on Broadway and London’s West End that evokes these full-bore turns?  “It never feels like a canned, greatest-hits collection of news clippings, but a fiery, live performance,” offers the San Francisco Chronicle.

And yes, it happened.  A group called Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners once raised thousands of British pounds for rural communities whose working men had been on the picket line for months. This is one chapter in that much larger story, and “a funny, moving, audience-rousing experience” (The Boston Globe) it is.

And can you look forward to the obligatory bonding dance scene with some fabulous disco?

Oh, baby, you know it.