Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Military Wives

While it’s hard to hate a movie like director Peter Cattaneo’s crowd-pleasing comedic/dramatic charmer, it would also be foolish not to mention how preposterously, almost cynically calculated the thing is.

Barely based on fact, this survives due to its pleasing cast, a few good tunes and some expert heartstring-plucking, so that even if you sit there trying desperately to loathe it, you just can’t.

With a plot arc much like Cattaneo’s most famous movie, The Full Monty (and virtually hundreds of others out there too), this takes place back in 2010 at ‘Flitcroft Barracks’, a fictional spot where a group of military types get sent to Afghanistan, and their wives and families are left alone, again. Everyone’s tense and teary, and so attempts are made to unite them all with clubs and events, which leads to an immediate clash between the uptight Kate (Kristin Scott Thomas), the Colonel’s wife, and the more relaxed Lisa (Sharon Horgan) when it’s decided that they’ll form an improbable choir.

Kristin is always good at doing that slightly posh emotional repression routine, and she’s strong here, although it’s a little hard to entirely believe the character, especially when she starts to loosen up and go with the flow. However, there are a swag of other types to distract you, including: shy Jess (Gaby French), with the voice of an angel; young newbie Sarah (Amy James-Kelly), who’s only been married for a short time; and tough Ruby (Lara Rossi), who misses her wife greatly and likes to regularly remind everyone that she’s the only gay member of the gang.

Lisa also has a rebellious daughter named Frankie (India Amarteifio), who likes a bit of underage boozing, and then Kristin’s Kate’s hubby returns home, and he’s played by the eminently forgettable Greg Wise. Oh, and Jason Flemyng is on hand to march around stiffly as Crooks, although he warms up as the choir starts miraculously learning how to, you know, actually sing, and even manages a ridiculously polished version of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time.

This is the kind of movie where you know exactly what’s going to happen next and, chances are, you really want it to happen, right up to the big contrived climax where (spoilers!) the wives do exactly what you think they’re going to do at (spoilers again!!!) the Royal Albert Hall. And, dammit, people will pay good money to see precisely that and nothing else: no twists, no subversions, no surprise plot turnarounds or sneaky unhappy endings. Absolutely not, Sir!!!

Military Wives (M) is in cinemas now

Reviewer Rating

DM Bradley

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