Cannes 2014: Pride reaction review

The Cannes crowd is a notoriously critical bunch to impress.

So it says something that its closing night movie Pride prompted a standing ovation almost as long as the movie itself, eliciting whoops, cheers and tears from all and sundry.

Pride is about as 'British Breakout'-y as you can get, with a culture clash comedy drama tale reminiscent of the Billy Elliot/The Full Monty successes of the 90s.

Back in 1984, and Magaret Thatcher's stringent rule has minorities of every kind feeling oppressed. Closeted 20-year-old Joe (George MacKay) finds new-found friends and support at the London Gay Pride march, hooking up with an eclectic, politicised bunch who congregate for fund/morale-raising projects and parties at a nearby gay bookstore.

When charming, charismatic group leader Mark (Ben Schnetzer) identifies a moral kinship in the equally as beaten down miner community, he forms the LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners), and goes about raising funds to support their plight.

The only problem? The remote Welsh mining town they're supporting are home to their own prejudices - and their own homophobia may just scupper the whole operation before it even starts.

What follows is the epitome of a crowd-pleaser, with comedy, drama and warm-and-fuzzies-infusing emotion all overlapping for a story as amusing as it is affecting.

Director Matthew Warchus strikes the near-perfect tone, with a tale never explicitly championing one minority over another, rather focusing on the human commonality that beats beneath the social rights that should ultimately unite us all.

The tone occasionally slips into schmaltz, but that's to be expected in a story so stringently optimistic. And even if your cynicism-ometer is in danger of going full curmudgeon, you'd have to have a heart of cold black coal not to grin along with the sight of Dominic West winning over a working men's club through the art of disco, or Imelda Staunton collapsing in a fit of giggles as she waves around a giant pink dildo.

It's a story bolstered and reinforced by an array of strong performances, with Bill Nighy, Ben Schnetzer and Paddy Considine all impressing in roles with vastly different emotional beats.

And it's in this varying emotional spectrum that Pride stands out from its Elliott/Monty peers, with a grittier and darker subtext that makes the highs even more euphoric in contrast.

Whether that leads to a lesser or bigger breakout mainstream success remains to be seen, but in Cannes at least, Pride was the feel-good hit of the festival.