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Stars: Ben Schnetzer, Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton, George MacKay, Dominic West, Andrew Scott, Jessie Cave, Jessica Gunning, Bill Nighy, Freddie Fox, Joseph Gilgun, Liz White
Director: Matthew Warchus
Depicted with broad brushstrokes, this liberal-minded drama, based, equally liberally, on fact, focuses on the time, in the mid 1980s, when the unlikeliest of bedfellows, the Gay and Lesbian Front and the National Union of Mineworkers, came together to fight the Thatcher government over the contentious, livelihood-threatening pit closures it proposed.
It's livewire Mark (Schnetzer) who initially rallies his friends to the cause, telling them the miners are just as oppressed a minority as themselves. Together with the flamboyant Jon (West) and his partner Gethin (Scott), newcomer Joe (MacKay, so much like the young Michael Crawford that you almost expect him to appear in a beret) and others, they form the Gays and Lesbians Support the Miners group, start collecting money, and get in touch with one Welsh valley community.
The valley's leader (Considine) soon gets over his initial surprise - 'I thought the L stood for London' - and wins his unexpected benefactors over in the midst of a raucous gathering of gay clubbers. 'One thing's different between this bar and one in South Wales,' he says, looking at the drag queens. 'It's the women...they're much better looking here.'
Soon, the LGSTM bus is on its way to Wales, where the majority reaction is expectedly hostile...
Although one must admit the film's feelgood effectiveness, it does paint a very black-and-white picture of the conflict. The miners and gays alike are all big-hearted, and the local nay-sayers, a woman (White) and her two sons, who try to turn the community against the visitors, are villains of the blackest hue straight out of Victorian melodrama.
Still, although the film seems to have two or three endings, there's no denying the highly emotive appeal of the final Gay Pride march. Subtlety may not be much on offer here, but two understated performances do catch the eye: Scott as the quietly bitter Gethin, and Gunning as Sian, a forthright and intelligent Welsh lass, who penetrate our emotions more than the director's manipulative tugging at our heartstrings.
Welsh accents are variable: Considine's quite good, Staunton's enthusiastic, Nighy's almost non-existent.
UK 2014. UK Distributor: Pathé. Colour by Panalux.
120 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.
Review date: 07 Sep 2014