- by Jeff Beck
Pride: Well-Intentioned, but a Bit Too Excessive (Blu-ray)
“Pride” is a well-intentioned attempt to tell a true-life tale of a tumultuous time in the U.K. The year is 1984. Mineworkers are on strike and are seemingly getting very little in the way of support. At the same time, a group of homosexuals that includes Mark (Ben Schnetzer), Joe (George MacKay), and Steph (Faye Marsay), are trying to rally for gay and lesbian rights, adding the cause of the miners to their own. Having no success when it comes to officially supporting them via the unions, they decide to reach out directly to the miners themselves, eventually leading to an invitation from the mining council, which includes Cliff (Bill Nighy) and Hefina (Imelda Staunton). At first, they find a strong sense of hesitation from many of the miners, but as they spend more and more time with each other, showing their strong support in the process, the two groups soon find themselves in solidarity. However, there are still some that find the union objectionable. When one of these naysayers breaks the news to the media, it causes certain members of the council to rethink the decision to allow support from a group that some may find a little embarrassing, throwing everything that both groups have worked for into jeopardy.
“Pride” is a film that seems set up for success from the start. It’s an important story that has an incredibly uplifting message, one that pierces through all of the pointless hatred and bigotry of the time to show that such perseverance can work. So what is it exactly about the film that doesn’t make it work as well as it should? I think the film’s main faults can be traced back directly to two main issues: its structure and runtime. These may seem like odd areas to complain about in a film that’s trying to deliver an important message like this, but because of these two things, the message ends up getting buried a little too much. Looking at its structure, it starts well as the main characters establish their group and form the connection with the miners, but every time the plot moves forward a little, it seems as though the film goes on a bit of a needless hiatus before finally moving it forward again, including a couple of overly-long party scenes that don’t do much to develop things.
This leads directly into the second problem: a runtime of two hours that feels completely overextended, not only because of the previously mentioned issue, but also because the main plot is wrapped up at about the 90-minute mark, leaving the film to continue on for around 30 additional minutes as it slowly winds itself down. Obviously the filmmakers were going for a feel-good crowd-pleasure, which they succeed at in part, but with all of the excess thrown in here, it ends up diluting much of the effect they were going for. It’s a shame too because there’s a lot to like about the film, including a fantastic ensemble that features Ben Schnetzer, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Andrew Scott, and Dominic West. With a little restraint, “Pride” could have had the grand impact that was intended, but sadly it’ll merely have to settle for having hit a few good notes amongst the excess.
“Pride” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p transfer of outstanding quality. Every now and again, you may notice a slight bit of fuzziness, but for the most part, the picture is perfectly sharp and crisp throughout the two-hour runtime. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is just slightly on the soft side, so you may need to adjust the volume a little, but otherwise, all sound elements are presented in great quality. Overall, the film has been given excellent treatment that ensures a fantastic experience in both departments.
Six Deleted and Extended Scenes: About ten minutes of deleted scenes that are interesting to watch, but not particularly vital to the film.
Pride: The True Story: A fascinating look at the true events that includes interviews with the real-life people who lived through it, in addition to the cast and crew of the film. Most definitely worth watching.
While “Pride” does have a lot to like about it, including a fantastic ensemble and a positive, uplifting message, sadly the film is smothered in a little too much excess, which in turn makes it not work as well as it might have. A few more passes through the editing room might have been able to do wonders for the film, knocking out the superfluous scenes and bringing more focus to the themes at its heart. In the end, mere good intentions were simply not enough.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.