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A Civil Union

Nicola Dove/Pathé Films

Pride (2014)

Bookended by the London Pride parades of 1984 and 1985, “Pride” dramatizes the real-life Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign to raise funds for the Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valleys’ Miners Support Group in Wales during a yearlong strike.

The strike gave a cause to rebel Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer), who immediately empathized with the miners’ plight upon recognizing that the police brutality he had seen visited on queers was now being directed at the miners. So he assembled a ragtag group of misfits out of an LGBT bookstore and mobilized them to collect donations. But when no area union local would welcome their unsolicited charity, they set their sights on one in Onllwyn of Dulais, South Wales. Despite a tepid reception, the reckless Jonathan (Dominic West) soon helped win over the tough crowd with his dancing prowess and disco music.

The well-meaning film periodically succumbs to manipulative schmaltz and cliché, like Bronwen Lewis breaking into “Bread and Roses” impromptu following Mark’s motivational speech and the rest of the audience gradually joining her — in harmony, no less. In due time, the sexual orientation of still-live-at-home Joe (George MacKay) is uncovered by his parents; the stuttering union point man Cliff (Bill Nighy) comes out; Gethin (Andrew Scott) receives a bashing and also visits his estranged mother; and union rep Hefina (Imelda Staunton) cuts loose in a leather bar and gets her hands on a dildo while visiting London.

Yet none of these distract from the significance of the film, which captures the gay identity and activism of the era even more completely than Gus Van Sant’s earnest “Milk.” “Pride” reminds us of a time before the Internet, when a gay bookstore was an epicenter that provided refuge for those dipping their toes into their own sexuality and facilitated friendships and meetings of minds, when self-acceptance forced one to take a political stand, and when the LGBT “community” was a community indeed and its members in the fight together.

In this age of cultivated buddy lists, location-based hookup apps, circuit parties, Fire Island summer shares, open relationships and via-surrogacy parenthood, the reminder that “Pride” serves couldn’t have come at a better time. Back in the day, we had solidarity with not only one another, but also every one else who struggled along.


Opens on Sept. 12 in Britain and on Sept. 26 in the United States

Directed by Matthew Warchus; written by Stephen Beresford; director of photography, Tat Radcliffe; edited by Melanie Ann Oliver; music by Christopher Nightingale; production design by Simon Bowles; costumes by Charlotte Walter; produced by David Livingstone; released by Pathé/20th Century Fox (Britain) and CBS Films (United States). Running time: 2 hours. This film is rated 15 by B.B.F.C. and R by M.P.A.A.

WITH: Bill Nighy (Cliff), Imelda Stanton (Hefina), Dominic West (Jonathan), Paddy Considine (Dai), George MacKay (Joe), Joseph Gilgun (Mike), Andrew Scott (Gethin), Ben Schnetzer (Mark), Faye Marsay (Steph), Liz White (Margaret), Menna Trussler (Gwen), Lisa Palfrey (Maureen) and Freddie Fox (Jeff).


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