© Senator/Central

U.K. 2014

Opening 30 Oct 2014

Directed by: Matthew Warchus
Writing credits: Stephen Beresford
Principal actors: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Andrew Scott, Joseph Gilgun

The early eighties were troubled times in England. The Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, became increasingly dictatorial as she tried to control the trades unions, who were prepared to call out their members at the drop of a hat. This came to a head during the miners’ strike in 1984, which developed into a long and bitter struggle.

It was while watching the clashes between the miners and the police on the T.V. news that Mike (Joseph Gilgun) a young gay rights activist in London, had an idea. He felt that the miners were suffering as much as gay people at the hands of the police and that there was a natural affinity between the two, seemingly very disparate, groups. Mike persuaded his friends to collect money for striking miners’ families and soon there were buckets full of coins collected from passers-by on the streets of London to be distributed to the strikers.

Unfortunately, when the National Union of Miners was contacted by Mike’s group, which was named Gay and Lesbians Support the Miners (GLSM for short), officials were embarrassed and reluctant to accept money from such a (then) controversial organization. Undaunted by this rebuttal, Mike managed to make contact with an unsuspecting member of a community centre in an obscure mining village. He and his GLSM Group hopped into a clapped-out van which was owned by Jonathon (Dominic West) and headed to South Wales to hand over the money to the bewildered mining families. Jonathon left behind Gethin (Andrew Scott) who, despite his Welsh name and origins, had sworn never to return there.

What happened next in that tiny mining village makes for a movie which is sometimes sad, occasionally sentimental but mainly very, very, funny. Committee members Cliff (Bill Nighy) and Hefina (Imelda Staunton) know they have a fight on their hands, but it is Jonathon who manages to turn the tide of feelings in the village.

Director Matthew Warchus and screenwriter Stephan Beresford have made a film which, incredible as it seems, is based on a true story. The wintry Welsh countryside they chose to film the movie in cleverly mirrors the miners’ struggles and their bleak future. The lively soundtrack they chose and the witty dialogue throughout raise the viewer’s spirits and prevent the movie from being yet another tirade against an unpopular leader and her mishandling of the situation. The acting by everyone in the movie is impeccable and the costumes perfect. The BBC has made a little gem of a movie, one which was awarded the Queer Palm Award in Cannes this year and which is certainly worth watching. (Jenny Mather)

Second Opinion

This has already been well and thoroughly reviewed by Jenny Mather, who has covered the plot and who also gave it four stars. So I will just tell you why I am so enthusiastic about this film. To begin with, I was very impressed by the excellent cast – among them George Mackay as Joe, Faye Marsay as Steph and Dominic West as Jonathan. Not to forget the always excellent Bill Nighy and Paddy Considine as Cliff and Hefina respectively.

My particular joy in the film, though, was the fact that it was a true story with an extraordinary script, which converted the historic facts into an exciting and moving film. The dramatic revelations of the confrontations between the miners in Wales and Gays and Lesbians from London, of course, were expected, but the changes in attitudes and, especially, how they came about, were not. The influence of the women and the tolerance of the LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) were also warmly portrayed. It is a great story with terrific music from the ‘80s disco scene, by the way. I highly recommend it. (Adele Riepe)

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