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On Monday night, most of New York’s acting community, on their night off from the boards, could be found in one of two places. Many were attending the American Theatre Wing’s annual gala at the Plaza Hotel, where the legendary Angela Lansbury was feted. And the rest, it seemed, could be found at the historic Ziegfeld Theatre, where Stephen Sondheim, Mike Nichols and Scott Rudin — a Big Apple all-star trio, if ever there was one — hosted a special advance screening of Pride, a feel-good dramedy about a little-known slice of U.K. history which CBS Films will release on Sept. 26.
It had its world premiere as the closing night film of the Directors’ Fortnight section of the May’s Cannes Film Festival and its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last week, and now joins a relatively thin field of Golden Globe contenders in the musical or comedy categories.
Pride is the first film directed by Matthew Warchus in 15 years — he is better known for his directorial work on the stage and will soon replace Kevin Spacey as the new artistic director at the Old Vic — and the first film ever written by Stephen Beresford. Its plot is based on the true story of a group of gays and lesbians from London (The Book Thief‘s Ben Schnetzer, The Wire‘s Dominic West, Andrew Scott, etc.) — including one youngster still in the closet to his own family (George MacKay) — who banded together to raise money for striking miners in Wales during the Thatcher-era crackdown on unions, feeling a sort of a kinship with them which was reciprocated by some members of the Welsh community (Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, etc.), but not all (Margaret White, etc.). As you can imagine, this scenario brings about plenty of pathos and humor.
The film wisely borrows a lot from earlier and even better productions: the shock-factor of The Full Monty (1997), the parent-child tension of Billy Elliot (2000), the idealistic activism of Milk (2008) and the underdog spirit of Made in Dagenham (2010), among them. It also touches upon, but really only glosses over, the AIDS epidemic that would soon follow the events chronicled in the film, which is why it might be nice to watch it back-to-back with HBO’s recent Emmy-winning film The Normal Heart, which chronicles that next chapter in gay history.
Pride was received with laughter, tears and voluminous applause — admittedly by a community more liberal and gay-friendly than many in America — as well as Tweets along the lines of this one from Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth: “I just saw the best movie of the year!” It remains to be seen if the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which determines Golden Globe nominees and winners, will feel the same way.
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