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Pride

Near the beginning of “Pride,” gay activist Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) gathers his group together after a Pride march.  “Does it seem to you like the police have been leaving us alone lately?  Hardly any beatings, bottles thrown, random harassment?” he asks.  “Maybe it’s because they’re too busy harassing these guys,” and he holds up a paper with striking miners on the front page. From there, he organizes GLSM – Gays and Lesbians Support the Miners – as an act of solidarity for a community that is suffering from the government inattention/oppression, and the demonization in the press, and the random ill-feeling that his community has grown used to.  It’s an interesting way to proceed – it’s almost as if Ashton misses the persecution and goes looking for it – but it’s pretty amazing the way he is able to lead others to look past differences and find common ground.

It’s hard to imagine a more practical application of Jesus’ command to love your enemies.  Ashton and his friends raise money by rattling buckets outside of a gay-themed bookstore and making fundraising phone calls, but that’s the easy part. Things get more interesting when it comes time to deliver the money they’ve raised to the miners. These aren’t the kind of people who welcome drag queens and butches with open arms.  These are the kind of people who break their arms. My favorite moments in “Pride” are the multiple times Ashton and his friends recognize that they’re walking into a situation where they might get beat up, cussed out, stuff thrown at them — and they walk in anyway, extending a hand of friendship while bracing for a punch in the face.  That takes real courage.  

“Pride” is based on a true story, coming out of the 1984 Miners’ strike in Great Britain. It’s rich source material, and I’m glad somebody brought it to the screen — this falls in the “too strange to be fiction” category.  The way writer Stephen Beresford and director Matthew Warchus brought it to the screen, however, could’ve used a bit more polish.  We are told almost nothing about the strike, and the people in the miners’ community remain roughly sketched at best. The gays aren’t much better – every stereotypical gay is represented here, and nothing more than lame attempts are made to fill out the characters and make them more interesting.

In general, it feels like the writer and director are trying to tell too many stories at once.  We don’t really need the closeted young man who tells his family he’s going to pastry school but goes to marches instead – we’ve heard/seen that story plenty of times. And though it’s an interesting historical detail, we don’t really need the story of the second man diagnosed with HIV in Britain, ever.  And the lesbians are almost completely superfluous. Sharper focus on a few characters would make for a better movie.

 

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Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

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