Military Wives review: giving a voice to unsung heroes

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The Military Wives movie hits all the right notes, in the order you pretty much expect.

There’s a certain type of British movie. Usually a three-star kind of film that looks at gung-ho British values with their very quaint, feel-good emotions, or inspiring underdog tales. The likes of Cuban Fury, the recent Fisherman’s Friends and, master of this, the brilliant The Full Monty. Speaking of The Full Monty, director Peter Cattaneo is at the helm in this latest feel-good flick Military Wives. Starring Sharon Horgan and Kirstin Scott-Thomas, it revolves around a group of women who live on an army base with their respective soldier husbands and wives. When their partners are sent away, the women come up with activities in order to distract themselves. Kate, a rambunctious and patronising woman who is married to a highranking officer, forces the women to form a choir. Leading it with the help of the familiar but sarcastic Lisa, the pair bump heads as the choir receives global recognition.

Based loosely on the stories of real choirs across the country (and, in turn, the hit TV show), Military Wives is a charming film with a good heart and great performances. Kristen Scott-Thomas and Sharon Horgan are excellent here, playing sister-like enemies turned friends who have a different approach. The pair fight because of their grief and angst, and they perform it in such a way where the viciousness feels real, yet so does their love and care for one another. The two leads really do that – lead this ragtag group of women to a sweet film.

The biggest problem here is that it hits all the familiar notes, including the comedy. Each scene is pretty predictable, from the ladies forming the choir to becoming a popular hit in the country. The conflicts and the betrayals, and even some of the grief, is almost as if the script was a play-by-numbers book in British ‘feel-good’ dramas. There is also a vein of pro-war propaganda here, with the movie failing to examine how the women actually feel about the politics beyond a throwaway line to a group of anti-war protestors. With a movie that sets up shop literally in an Army base, it seems like a missed opportunity to explore some of the harder topics of being an Army wife. Without this nuance, Military Wives feels a little shallow, even in difficult and emotional scenes.

That being said, this is still a good, solid piece of cinema. What’s more, Military Wives does give a voice to the Army’s unsung heroes. Well, they’re not that unsung anymore…

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