wed 08/04/2020

Military Wives review - the surprising true story of the women who rocked the charts | reviews, news & interviews

Military Wives review - the surprising true story of the women who rocked the charts

Military Wives review - the surprising true story of the women who rocked the charts

'Full Monty' director Peter Cattaneo returns with another feel-good BritCom

Hitting the right notes: Kristen Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan

There’s a lot of plucky British charm to Military Wives, from Peter Cattaneo, the director who won the nation's heart with his debut film The Full Monty over two decades ago.

There’s a lot of plucky British charm to Military Wives, from Peter Cattaneo, the director who won the nation's heart with his debut film The Full Monty over two decades ago. His latest offering, starring Kristen Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan, has much in common with his first film - a rise-and-fall tale with plenty of comedy - but this time round features a predominantly female cast and is based on a true story.

Many will remember the Military Wives Choir, who had a number one hit in 2011 with ‘Wherever You Are’. Cattaneo uses their story as a springboard for his own fictional take. Kate (Scott Thomas) and Lisa (Horgan) live at a military barracks while their husbands are away fighting in Afghanistan. Both women dread the ring of the doorbell or phone telling them the worst. In fact, Kate has already experienced the worst. She’s lost her son in battle and has to watch her husband return to war. Meanwhile, Lisa must contend with raising her free-spirited daughter Frankie (India Ria Amarteifio) alone. Sharon Horgan and Kristen Scott Thomas weave their magicKate is hunter wellies and gilets all the way, retaining a stiff upper lip at all times. Lisa prefers to let her emotions out, knocking back wine and chatting with the fellow wives at the barrack's convenience store. Unsurprisingly, the pair clash. Slowly, duty obliges them to pool their efforts into forming a choir. To everyone's shock, the choir show real talent, leading to a performance at “the big one” – the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Don’t expect a lot of originality from Military Wives. It sticks to the formula. Still, writers Rosanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard know how to hit the right beats, offering up a suitable balance of highs and lows that will make you laugh or weep in turn. The dynamic between Scott Thomas and Hogan smooths over the film’s bumpier moments. Scott Thomas brings weight to the drama, while Hogan generates the laughs. Together they work gentle magic.

It’s hard not to be taken by an acoustic rendition of Yazoo’s ‘Only You’ under a railway bridge, or a montage scene singing Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’. It’s a barebones feel-good film that rings emotionally true. Inevitably, the reality of war has the edges rounded off. Yes, there’s a pro ‘Support-the-troops’ vibe, but as Hogan’s Lisa puts it as she barges past anti-war protestors, “We don’t have the privilege of being against the war. We’re married to it”.

You’ve seen this film before, but that doesn’t take away a single element of pleasure that’s on offer, but never quite reaches the heights of Cattaneo’s debut. 

@JosephDAWalsh

Scott Thomas brings weight to the drama, while Hogan generates the laughs. Together they work gentle magic

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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