30 September 2014

Author Jack Roe

Pride 2

For a film that is essentially a retelling of a story from thirty years ago, Pride feels hugely topical. In the light of the momentous changes, both progressive and otherwise, in the realm of gay and lesbian rights and representation over the last year, from legal same sex marriages to the Sochi Olympics debacle, Pride reminds us that there was a time not so long ago in this country when things weren't quite so rosy. The forward strides that have been made since should be celebrated and indeed those parts of the film that focus on gay culture do have a celebratory feel. On the other hand, if the commitment and strive to affect a positive change that is demonstrated by the characters throughout this film is compared to the real world in which the Scottish referendum recently provided us with a huge vote of confidence for the status quo, then it could be debated, cautiously, that not all the social moves in the last thirty years have been positive. Whereas the homosexual community has rightly been welcomed in from the fringes, the working class has been stripped of the pride, community and indeed work that made the Welsh contingent of this film feel so vitally important in the years since 1984.

But of course this isn't a socio-political discussion of the Britain's recent history - is the film any good?

 The simple answer is a resounding yes. I attempted to engage with Pride in a purely critical context, to remain objective and write a thoroughly detailed analysis of the editing style and cinematography, to poke holes in the dialogue, to seek and expose slight missteps in the plot and make fun of a least one of the actors being a bit crap. In truth, on the strength of the first twenty minutes of Pride my original intentions seemed well served; there is an amateurish feel to the opening sequences of this film, all stark lighting and unnecessarily slick edits and a really rather bad introduction for Mark Ashton (gamely portrayed by Ben Schnetzer) that does not do the wealth and weight of the source material any justice whatsoever. Those concerns however are completely washed away with the arrival of Paddy Considine's Dai Donovan. As he is wont to do, Considine transforms this entire film with his performance; his sermons about unity feel vital, his Welsh accent is impeccable and his character feels well rounded and imperfect rather than saintly. The moments in which he is joined on screen by the supreme Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy are when this film become truly irresistible. The concerns about the film craft from the first twenty or so minutes remained, but only as a tiny insignificant voice and was completely overwhelmed by a perfectly portrayed and powerfully moving story. 



There is some strangeness to be appreciated here that does not necessarily detract from the film but is noteworthy nonetheless. The focus on the back stories of the characters are weighted rather peculiarly in places. For example, the fact that there was screen time for a discussion about Bromley's niece's impending christening while Mark, played by the excellent Joseph Gilgun, is allowed to remain entirely two-dimensional seems strange. There is also a highly amusing link between personal growth and beer - make no mistake that this is an extremely boozy film and there appears to be an idea bubbling under the surface that basically amounts to: “Get drunk, make friends, save the world”.

In essence, despite being generously coated in sugar, despite struggling to keep a track of the disparate strands of the story and despite dialogue that strays towards Hollywood levels of earnest heroism at times, this is a film that feels completely vital at the moment. You should take the time to watch it at your earliest convenience and, if there is any justice, this film should stand large next to The Full Monty and Billy Elliot in the recent history of British filmmaking. If you will permit me a slightly cheesy closing line, it's a film to be Proud of.

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You can read more by Jack at his website, cleverdickserial.com. He is on Twitter as  @jackroemedia

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Pride is now screening at Picturehouse at FACT. Tickets are available now from the Box Office, online and by phone on 0871 902 5737.