14 ene. 2015

Pride (8/10): It's a musical without being a musical

“When you're in a battle against an enemy so much bigger, so much stronger than you, well, to find out you had a friend you never knew existed, well, that's the best feeling in the world.”

Pride is Matthew Warchus’s third feature film and the first one since his 2004 musical, Our House. Pride isn’t a musical, but it surely feels like one with all the colorful characters and the lovable 80’s soundtrack. It was a surprisingly fun film with an upbeat message about solidarity. It is one of those rare crowd-pleasers that stands out from other films thanks to its strong cast and uplifting message. I never imagined a film focusing on the historic events that took place in the UK in 1984 when the miners were at strike and found an uncommon ally in the gay and lesbian activists could be so fun. We’ve had similar plots in the past where two groups come together in the aid of each other despite their differences, but I don’t think it has been done in such a contagiously joyful manner. Take last year’s Dallas Buyers Club for example where we get a contrasting alliance between a redneck cowboy and a group of gays suffering from AIDS. That was a much more serious film where we got some comedic moments due to the contrasting lifestyles, but Pride takes this similar premise of contrasting groups coming together and delivers a much more hilarious and uplifting film. It still delivers the message and despite being formulaic it manages to stand out thanks to its colorful characters that never lose their humanity. I can’t think of another film where a group of gay and lesbian activists aren’t just fighting for their own cause, but are actually invested in helping others who are going through a difficult moment. So it stands out in that it isn’t one of those films that is focused entirely on delivering a message in favor of gay rights, but rather focusing on the solidarity between these two groups. That is what makes this a much more humane  story and one everyone an identify with. The way the film is portrayed feels like a musical at times and you actually want to dance along with some of the characters when the music plays. Pride is a film with a lot of heart that reminds us that despite our personal issues there are always others out there in need of our solidarity. Pride might feel a bit too sentimental at times, but it is a feel-good film nonetheless with some of the funniest scenes of any comedy released in 2014. There are also some dramatic moments where I literally got goose bumps because I was moved. It is well balanced and uplifting despite its flaws.

Some of my favorite moments in the film involved the clashing of these two contrasting groups. Despite their differences they learn to understand each other because they both have suffered from oppression. The cast couldn’t have been better. Ben Schnetzer gives an impressive performance as the gay activist who comes up with the idea of supporting this group and winning a new ally in the process, but the fun really kicks in when they interact with these miners from a small Welch community. This is where we are introduced to some great characters played by Paddy Considine, Jessica Gunning, Imelda Staunton, and Bill Nighy who are outstanding. Nighy really delivers by underplaying his character and proves that sometimes less is more. I enjoyed Gunning’s strong female performance and I look forward to seeing her in more films in the future. George MacKay also delivers as this young kid who hasn’t told his parents he’s come out (which is probably the most formulaic part of this film) so he lies to them about his activities. Andrew Scott and Dominic West also have some endearing moments on screen together. The best thing about Pride is without a doubt the strong cast which thanks to the rich screenplay by Stephen Beresford are given such colorful and interesting characters. It is a film that reminds us about our humanity and the importance of being solidary towards one another. It is both cheerful and earnest about its subject matter.

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