Saturday, 13 September 2014

REVIEW - PRIDE (MATTHEW WARCHUS)


Though Matthew Warchus' ode to the strength of society, socialism and solidarity may appear to exist in an artistic vacuum, such an analysis entails overlooking the true artistry in Warchus' work. A theatre veteran, he is schooled in the art of dramatic development, of supreme emotional manipulation. And if you don't feel comfortable with that, fine. Don't bother watching Pride. Don't actually bother with any films. Don't bother turning on the TV either. Shit, don't even step outside the house. That aggravating Brassed Off-esque chirpy tone that British dramatists impose upon the working class soon cedes to a feeling, and it's an intense and sustained feeling, of enormous empathy and respect. Pride is Triumph of the Will for all of the wonderful humanistic traits that Leni Riefenstahl's film stood in fearsome opposition to. It's rousing in every perceivable sense, whether it's spurring on tears or cheers, and often both. It'll inspire fury in your heart, then soothe it with sweetness, and as soon as you begin to question the factual integrity of Warchus' approach it's already too late. You'll have succumbed to the irresistible power of his vision, in reimagining the past not as it was then but as it is now, as the brilliant battlecry of love and tolerance. Warchus' irrepressible positivity reflects that of his characters, whose troubled existences could never dampen their spirits nor diminish their humour, and Pride is an extremely funny film. And cutting through the comedy are moments of disarming darkness - in a nightclub stairwell where the pain of being gay in the 1980s comes suddenly into devastating focus - or of stirring sensuality - a soft but spontaneous kiss, and a true awakening ensues. The cast is almost uniformly marvellous, turning a good script into a great movie under sensitive direction from Mr. Warchus. And what of that stylistic vacuum? Sure, one lingering shot on a telephone in an empty hall might be the most fantastically-conceived image of the year.