TIFF 2014: “Pride” – Review by Daniel Rester

Pride  wraps history with feel-good touches


TIFF 2014: Pride

Review by Daniel Rester

It’s hard not to be charmed by Pride, a feel-good film written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus. The film is based on a true story and stars a large cast of likable actors, led by such talents as Bill Nighy and Dominic West.

Pride takes place in 1984 and tells the story of a group of U.K. gay activists who came to the support of miners who were on strike. They formed the campaign Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. In the film the group is led by a positive and determined young man named Mark (wonderfully played by Ben Schnetzer). But the character we mostly follow is Joe (George MacKay), a young man who is afraid to tell his family about his homosexuality. Mark, Joe, and the others do a number of things to support the mining community, though the gays and lesbians are not fully welcomed by the miners at first.

Beresford’s screenplay tells an interesting little story while packing it with colorful characters. His dialogue is often believable and warm without being too sugary. The writing does fall into cliché at times, but the film also sidesteps some traditional moments and the obvious plot points are forgivable due to the sheer likability of the characters.

Warchus never shows off with his directorial touches but rather rides on the story and characters. He does fill the film with delightful songs and provides some visual snap every now and then, but it is clear that he is mostly interested in the variety of characters and their emotions. The director keeps a brisk pace and knows how to handle the huge cast, never letting it become messy with all of the acting ingredients involved.

The cast has no letdowns, though Schnetzer is more interesting than MacKay when it comes to the two leads. Such actors as Nighy, Imelda Staunton, and Paddy Considine all bring terrific performances to the table as well. The scene-stealers, though, are West and Andrew Scott as a gay couple whose names are Jonathan and Gethin. West simply brings the most charm and energy to his performance while Scott – who looks a lot like Scoot McNairy – brings quiet heartbreak to his role. Jonathan may end up being one of the more talked-about gay film characters in a while.

Pride isn’t on the level of powerhouse films like Brokeback Mountain (2005) or Milk (2008), but it is an appealing little movie with strong messages. The film lacks a certain dramatic punch by its finish and the story perhaps has too many characters. There also isn’t very much subtlety to it all. Little issues aside, though, Pride is a crowd-pleasing British dramedy that leaves a smile on your face.    

Score: 3 out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: B+).

MPAA Rating: R (for violence, bloody images, and language).

Runtime: 2 hours.

U.S. Release Date: September 26th, 2014.

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