Pride Matthew Warchus
Published Dec 31, 2014One of the more commonplace ways of describing the style and sensibility of Matthew Warchus' overly twee and politically simplistic issue drama, Pride, is to call it "crowd-pleasing." In many ways, the descriptor is really just a polite euphemism for "condescending drivel."
Like Billy Elliot, The Full Monty or Calendar Girls, Pride is very much assembled using a well worn formula. Unlikely underdogs (here, gay men) strike out against a conservative opposition (early '80s London) with a far-fetched concept (raising money for the National Union of Mineworkers) that brings unlikely groups together and helps everyone learn a little something about themselves. At first, everything is sunny and broadly comic, as an array of painfully idiosyncratic and broadly sketched archetypes are introduced: closeted Joe (George MacKay); overbearing activist Mark (Ben Schnetzer); lone lesbian Steph (Faye Marsay); and a variety of other clichés. Since everyone is inherently likeable and defined by equal parts oddball goodness and insecurity, the motivational and political ambiguities of a group of gays and lesbians co-opting a miners strike is easy to ignore.
As the formula dictates, every character has a secret or excruciating generic barrier to overcome, which comes about just prior to the third act. Since every moment and even most of the dialogue is entirely predictable, there's really no cerebral pleasure gleaned from watching, making Pride a truly "crowd-pleasing" movie for folks that like their world and their politics very, very tidy and simplistic. To be fair, the motivation behind the small gay and lesbian splinter group is questioned at one point with the observation that raising money for AIDS research might be more conducive to their cultural subsection. But, like every other problem presented in this middling, mediocre British biopic — it's based on a true story, as we learn in the sole DVD supplement "The True Story" — they're handled with utmost superficiality and brushed under the carpet with a glib remark and a peppy montage.
In fact, when the sole villain of the film — there's always one person that's socially isolated in these films for not assimilating to the Stepford Wife status quo — suggests that raising money for the miners is merely a tactic to promote gay rights, it's met with blanket venom and little reasonable articulation or counterpoint. The reason: it's far too messy a concept for a movie where every character (save the evil, conniving one-note villain) has only the most noble of intentions.
Resultantly, in order to enjoy Pride, it's best not to think much, if at all. There's no place for thorny dialogues or practical real world discussions here; there's only the sheer whimsy of essentially remaking The Full Monty, only without a bunch of ugly naked guys crying.