Movie review: Pride reminds us of what can be achieved

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Members of the cast of the movie Pride.

North America’s LGBT community has been so indoctrinated with images of Stonewall over the years that we sometimes forget that there is a world of gay rights activism beyond its borders.  One such story is making its way across the pond and onto the movie cinemas of the empire’s former colonies.

In the historically inspired new movie Pride, two unlikely groups in the United Kingdom band together for what became a turning point for both gay rights and the labour movement in that country.  Taking place at the height of Margaret Thatcher’s rule during that nation’s nasty mineworker’s strike, Pride tells the story of a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists, “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners”,  who take up the miner’s cause to help raise much needed cash as the strike drags on.  With the offer of assistance first rejected by the miner’s union, the group chooses a small mining village in Wales as recipients of the money.  As the unlikely alliance gradually finds strength among some of the town’s initial homophobia, the two groups eventually unite in a fight against Thatcher and intolerance.

As the story’s central plot unfolds, first-time screenwriter Stephen Beresford combines it with a coming out story and an acknowledgement of the burgeoning AIDS epidemic.  But even as Pride may be spread a little thin at times, Beresford and director Matthew Warchus create such a wholly realized world for this talented cast to inhabit that while you may leave the theatre wanting more, you are fully satisfied in what they have managed to cram into this two hour flick.

And what a cast it is.  From veteran actors Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton who bring their years of experience to the screen with skill and grace, to a very believable and likable Ben Schnetzer who plays Mark, the young idealist and catalyst for this unlikely union.  For anyone that has seen Dominic West as Detective McNulty in The Wire will no doubt be surprised, and 77 year-old Menna Trussler is absolutely hilarious as a curious resident of the mining community.

As bold and bright as any grassroots gay pride parade (before they became commercialized), Pride is one of those uplifting movies that will remind us of the amazing achievements for gay rights beyond our sometimes self-centered North American view. But perhaps more importantly, it’s underlying message of how together we can achieve amazing things, will resonate well beyond the LGBT community.

Pride opens in Vancouver on September 26 at Fifth Avenue Cinemas (2110 Burrard St).  Visit http://cineplex.com for showtimes.

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