Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Sharon Horgan, Jason Flemyng, Emma Lowndes and Gaby French.
Directed by Peter Cattaneo
Written by Rosanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard
Military Wives is a delightfully British, ‘inspired by real events’, heart warmer that tells the story of a group of wives left trying to keep their minds off their partners recent deployment. As our group of brilliantly normal women pull together to create a choir we experience a glimpse into the lives of military families as well the two choir leaders who regularly lock horns – the laid back Lisa (Horgan) and the highly strung Kate (Thomas), who are dealing with their own personal challenges at the same time as trying to keep spirits high and create something to be proud of.
Without a complex plot this movies asks you to look more at the individual characters, it’s scattered with easy laughs and a few moments that make it’s audience reach for the tissues. But at it’s core it reminds us that each family has it’s own ‘stuff’ and that despite our issues we can pull together, have fun and support one another. It’s a fairly unique setting as almost all of the action is on a military base, but that doesn’t alienate it’s audience. They delve into the complexities of the lifestyle that may differ to our own, just giving us subtle reminders (mostly through the role of Frankie) that living on a base is quite different to the day to day lives of those who don’t.
Majority of films that involve the military these days hold a clear stance on the politics surrounding the war that is a part of the story. One thing this film does very well is manage to avoid discussing politics. It somehow manages to maintain quite a neutral stance on the ‘bigger picture’, allowing the audience to empathise and connect with characters with whom the war is very much a part of their lives. I suppose the key here is that it isn’t a war film, that the focus isn’t on combat or politics. It’s presenting the lives of people left at home, while loved ones are doing their jobs on deployment, and finding a joy that can help themselves, each other and with the chance of bringing hope to others around them.
I have heard some remarks of disappointment that it isn’t an exact retelling of the true events. For those who aren’t aware, BBC 2 produced a programme called ‘The Choir: Military Wives’ which climaxed with a performance of the Festival of Remembrance. Our film mirrors the reality to some degree, but only really with the fact it’s about a Military Wives choir who are working towards a performance at the Festival of Remembrance. Brilliantly written by Rachel Tunnard and Rosanne Flynn, it allows us to empathise with a group of characters who represent many peoples reality.
This is another movie that isn’t going to have you on the edge of your seat, you can see where it’s going and typically how it’s going to get there. I urge you not to let this put you off; Military Wives is an easy but emotional watch that reminds you of a reality that might worry some, but encourages hope and is a wonderfully uplifting piece.