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dir Matthew Warchus
scr Stephen Beresford
prd David Livingstone
with Ben Schnetzer, George MacKay, Jessica Gunning, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Faye Marsay, Joseph Gilgun, Freddie Fox, Chris Overton, Lisa Palfrey
release UK 12.Sep.14, US 19.Sep.14
14/UK Pathe 2h00
Loud and proud: Marsay, MacKay, Schnetzer, Gilgun and Considine
CANNES FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Based on a seriously rousing true story, this British feel-good comedy-drama is energetically written and directed, and it's sharply played to get under the skin of a variety of characters. Even though the events took place 30 years ago, they have a present-day resonance that makes this one of the most important films of this year.
In 1984 London, 20-year-old Joe (MacKay) sneaks away from home to attend gay pride festivities, meeting activists led by rabble-rouser Mark (Schnetzer), who is raising funds to help miners who are striking against Thatcher's industry-crushing policies. But it's not easy finding miners willing to take donations from LGSM, Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners. Eventually, strike supporters (including Gunning, Considine, Staunton and Nighy) in the tiny Welsh village of Dulais accept their help, recognising that they're offering support because homosexuals understand how it feels to be abused by the police, the public and the government.
The film is packed with characters on their own private journeys within this larger story. As Joe discovers his identity, he knows he risks losing his family. Mark is terrified of the growing shadow of Aids. Colleagues Gethin and Jonathan (Scott and West) face strong personal issues. And the miners' families are equally complex people dealing with deep-seated prejudice (only Palfrey's villainous widow feels stereotypical). Standouts in the cast are MacKay, Scott and, more quietly, Gunning and Considine. And West and Staunton steal every scene.
Like Billy Elliot and The Full Monty, this story blends real-life economic and political turmoil with great music. And the period offers soaring elements like Bronski Beat's Why?, performed at LGSM's Pits & Perverts benefit concert. Best of all is the way a range of social issue is represented in characters, addressed without getting pushy about them. This is more about provoking thought than preaching a sermon. So as the irresistibly involving plot unfolds, the subject matter feels even much more urgent.
The film is such a relentless crowd-pleaser that it's impossible to watch without a smile. Each character travels a distinct path through the events, which build to an outrageous stand-up-and-cheer payoff. But if the film's structure is familiar, its subject matter sets it apart, because this is an issue the world is still grappling with. And as the characters ask: how is it possible to care about women's rights or racial justice without also caring about gay equality or the miners' right to earn a living?
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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