Sometimes there are hidden benefits to being an ignorant American. For example, someone could make a movie about a huge historical event that happened in England just thirty years ago, I have the advantage American can say “mining strike? Hmm. Interesting, tell me more”.
Such is the case, here. Did you know that in the mid 1980’s, a drag version of Ronald Reagan ruled over England with an Iron Fist and suppressed the miners there, leading to a year-long strike that caused many miners to be considered social pariahs, harassed by the cops and mocked by the press? And further, did you know that a gay activist group, knowing a little something about ridicule and harassment, empathized with the miners and raised money for them, so that they could stay in their homes and continue eating? I didn’t either. But I know it sounds like a great premise for a movie.
And that’s what this is, and a truly excellent movie at that. It’s a large ensemble cast, with many of them getting their own subplots, Robert Altman-style, as the larger strike plot looms in the background. Standouts include Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Jimmy McNulty himself, Dominic West. And no, McNulty isn’t a miner. He’s the most flamboyant gay in the bunch, and he pulls it off brilliantly.
Director Matthew Warcus has Spielberg’s ability to force-feed you schmaltz and make you think it’s as subtle and nuanced as fine wine. Or, more accurately, Spielberg can force-feed you schmaltz, tell you it’s schmaltz, put “SCHMALTZ” on a sign in big block letters and show it to you and you’ll nod knowingly and secretly think to yourself that you’re the only one who really “gets” what the girl in the red coat was all about. Warcus does the same thing here, with several scenes that should have had me chucking tomatoes at the screen and instead had me trying really hard to blink away all that damn dust in my eyes. And the end? Well, people in my theatre broke into applause because of three separate chyrons telling us what happened to these people in real life, and I didn’t even mind. I might have even joined in.
8 - OVERALL
8.0 TOTAL SCORE