If there is one thing that British filmmakers excel at, it’s that distinct ability to effortlessly combine humour with pathos, and to such triumphant effect. Films like The Full Monty, East is East and Brassed Off epitomise this point perfectly, and each hold such longevity, as films that are as enjoyable now as they ever were. Though without the benefit of hindsight, it’s fair to say that Matthew Warchus’ sophomore endeavour Pride is likely to join this exclusive list, as a film that’s so, well, undeniably and majestically British.
Set in the summer of 1984, with Margaret Thatcher in power, we watch on as the gay community – led predominantly by the impassioned Mark (Ben Schnetzer), offer their support to the miners during their strike, to join forces against the common enemy. When Dai (Paddy Considine) welcomes their alliance, Mark, joined by the likes of Joe (George MacKay), Steph (Faye Marsay) and the extravagant actor Jonathan (Dominic West) set off to Wales to lend a hand – though it’s one many of the miners refuse to accept.
In a traditional tale of the underdog, Pride is a touching piece of cinema that gets the balance perfectly between drama and comedy. At times we’re laughing hysterically – with a handful of hilarious scenes featuring the bemused (and somewhat excited) Welsh pensioners, as they welcome in the gay community. Yet the narrative is grounded, persistently, by the gritty, naturalistic elements that derive from this story – of an oppressed working class, and victims of hate crimes coming together to stand up and fight for what they believe in.
Where this film truly shines, however, is within the array of stunning performances. Making up the stellar cast we have Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Joseph Gilgun and Andrew Scott – the latter one of the star turns, though it’s a truly collaborative effort. What transpires is an emotional, uplifting and ultimately inspiring piece of cinema that is about as good as British cinema has had to offer in recent years.