This is a really great film. It’s stuffed with all the things that suggest it might be a bit cheesy, the sort of things aimed at Christmas Day viewers – a cast of familiar Brit faces, some light sauce (but nothing to upset granny), some carefully choreographed weepy moments and a couple of rousing tunes. The sort of things that annoy me usually. But bloody hell, I’ll say it again: Pride is a really great film.
Being a teenager in the 80s meant being political. They were days when injustices were happening in front of our eyes, and working people were being well and truly shafted by a government busy lining the pockets of their mates. Oh, hang on. Well, maybe every generation goes through it – for me, the miners strike stirred a belief in socialism and fairness that is still burning in my Billy Bragg theme-tuned heart 30 years later. It made me grow up, and it made me understand the brutal truth that life is fairer for some people than for others. I marched with the miners in Liverpool and I passionately believed in what I was marching for – I wanted things to be right. Watching Pride took me back there, to the days when I believed we could change the world. Maybe we did a bit, but some people changed it more than others, and it’s about time their stories were told.
Pride is the true story of a group of people in London who wanted to raise money to support striking miners. Because they happened to be gay and lesbian, and it was the 80s, nobody would accept their donation, not least take their calls. But they eventually tracked down a union rep from a small village in Wales who wasn’t weighed down with prejudice and welcomed them cautiously into the local community. Not everyone was thrilled about it of course, but recognising a fellow group of people who had been vilified for no reason (this was the Aids era, remember) and some fancy footwork on the dancefloor helped overcome most of the doubters.
Most of the characters here are real people, respectfully portrayed by a cast having the time of their lives. Paddy Considine, Bill Nighy and Dominic West are particularly wonderful and bloody hell, can West shake his ass. But everyone is on form, Ben Schnetzer shines as Mark Ashton, the driving force behind LGSM, and the supporting cast is uniformly excellent. There’s a warmth flooding through the performances that you’ll find still lodged in your heart days later.
Ok, there is a bit of clunky sentimentality and a couple of YOU WILL WEEP HERE scenes (though fair enough, I did bawl my eyes out as soon as Billy Bragg started singing at the end). But Pride is full of such good-natured ebullience, warmth and humour that I can forgive that. It’s also a timely reminder of why it’s important to stand up for what you believe in, no matter what. Don’t miss it.
Having LOVED Richard Ayoade’s Submarine, this was one of the first tickets I had on my list at LFF last year. Man, was I disappointed. Even though The Double has a cast to die for, some impressive production design and a few darkly funny moments, I just couldn’t warm to it at all. It does look great, kind of like the future got stuck in a time warp in 1970s Belgium where everything has been painted by someone with a diarrhoea fetish.
Loosely based on a Dostoevsky story, The Double starts well enough, Jesse Eisenberg is an endearing lead and it’s quite fun to watch him try to wrangle James, the super cool new bloke at work, who turns out to be, well him. Frustratingly, nobody else seems to realise this and his colleagues treat James like the prodigal son – he’s much better at everything than Simon, in fact, he’s everything that Simon wishes he was, including a hit with the women. An uneasy friendship begins between the two which soon includes the object of Simon’s unrequited love, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska). Trouble is, the plot from here on is a bit thin, interrupted only by a string of distracting cameos and it all felt a bit tedious.
It does pain me a bit not to be raving about this, I genuinely believe Ayoade has real talent as a director, and he’s also a very nice man – but The Double feels so chock full of homages it’s as if he was worried he might never make another film so bunged all his influences (and friends) into this one. But to be fair if your influences include Gilliam and early David Lynch then you might well enjoy this one a lot more than I did. I’d quite like to have seen more of Paddy Considine’s tv show, mind you.