Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Pride

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Pride

Article excerpt


15, Nationwide

1984 and all that. Which side were you on? The side of Margaret Thatcher, her hairdo and person standing rigid against a rising tide of industrial activism and British declinism? Or the side of the miners, socking it to the Tory scum and their jackbooted adjutant, Johnny Law?

There's no doubting which side this new movie Pride is on. It's about a curious episode in community relations when a group of gay people from London decided to fundraise and rabble-rouse on behalf of the striking miners in Wales. It starts with a shot of a red banner -- 'Thatcher Out!' -- hanging from a council-block window. And it ends with a discussion of which phrase will work best on a placard: 'Screw you, Thatcher!' or 'Fuck you, Thatcher!' They go with the former. 'More visceral', apparently.

Whoop! The 1985 Gay Pride march through central London

But don't let the politics scare you off. There's actually surprisingly little of it. Once it gets going, Pride is mostly a light comedy about folk in unexpected settings -- like those films in which a knight ends up in modern-day New York, or when Gordon Brown attends Parliament. The gays look exquisite in their eyeshadow and jewellery. The miners look careworn in their mossy jumpers and raincoats. The two groups meet, clash and eventually learn to love one another because we're all humans, aren't we? You know the drill.

The best parts of Pride are those that investigate these tensions. For instance, there's a scene in which our heroes from LGSM -- Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, natch -- play bingo alongside the Welsh villagers. It's funny on that simple, ha-ha level of seeing neon Londoners in a pebble-dashed community hall. But it's also funny because one of them takes the opportunity to declare a breakaway group called 'Lesbians Support the Miners'. It's a joke as old as Life of Brian , but it makes a serious point: how many causes have been foiled by petty vanity?

Sadly, Pride has petty vanities of its own. Despite heading in some intriguing directions, it often rushes back along an unchallenging path. And so we have the miners staring down into their pint glasses, wary of the queers in their midst. …

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