Film review: Military Wives

Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan star in this serviceable feel-good drama/comedy, says Linda Marric


Kristin Scott Thomas, Sharon Horgan and Greg Wise star in this serviceable feel-good drama/comedy from The Full Monty director Peter Cattaneo. 

Written by Rachel Tunnard and Rosanne Flynn, Military Wives is loosely based on the real life story of the first ever Military Wives Choir made famous by TV choir leader Gareth Malone.

As their respective significant others prepare for yet another tour in Afghanistan, a group of women on an army base come together to support each other. The wives must keep themselves occupied until their loved ones are back safe or – in the worst case scenario – are killed or injured in the line of duty.

This is an experience Kate (played by Scott Thomas), the wife of a high-ranking officer, knows all too well: her son was killed in action on a recent tour, while her husband (Greg Wise) has returned to fight once more.

After handing social committee duties to no-nonsense Captain’s wife Lisa (Horgan), uptight Kate can’t help but interfere with the way Lisa has chosen to proceed. Things come to a head when the women clash over the creation of a new choir, but they soon find that there is more they have in common than the stereotypes that initially divide them.

Cattaneo excels at these types of narratives. He presents a fairly formulaic, yet assuredly executed production which, when all said and done, is mostly elevated by its fantastically inspired cast.

Yes, Military Wives is a standard drama/comedy, and yes it is undeniably superficial in its representation of some aspects of military life, but on the whole Cattaneo has managed to pour so much heart and emotion into the story, that it is almost impossible not to fall for its, admittedly, obvious schtick.

Horgan and Scott Thomas play off each other brilliantly and with perfect comic timing. They give two beautifully layered, and inspired performances as two women who have more in common than first thought. Greg Wise is suitably self-effacing as the grieving father trying to salvage what is left of his life, while Jason Flemyng does a great job as the amiable duty officer left in charge of overseeing the committee.

This is a robustly acted, and fairly well handled drama comedy that does exactly what is expected from it. While there doesn’t appear to be much here that we haven’t already seen from Cattaneo, it’s the performances that make the film.

Military Wives is on general release from 6 March

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