Rousing, moving and great fun - Military Wives

REVIEW: Military Wives (12a), (113 mins), Cineworld Cinemas

Military Wives -Pictured Sharon Horgan as Lisa, Kristin Scott Thomas Kate, Jason Fleymng as Crooks and Emma Lowndes as Annie
Military Wives -Pictured Sharon Horgan as Lisa, Kristin Scott Thomas Kate, Jason Fleymng as Crooks and Emma Lowndes as Annie

There is something just a little generic about Military Wives, the latest instalment in a certain line of films, the ones about plucky Brits doing something rather extraordinary.

There is an awful lot about Military Wives which feels like Calendar Girls meets Brassed Off. But what puts it above such similar movies and pretty much at the top of its class is the sheer emotional impact it delivers, the beauty of the way it gets us all behind the brave endeavour, this time the formation (told in a ‘based on a real story’ kind of way) of the first ever Military Wives choir.

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With their husbands and partners away on active service in Afghanistan and every moment fearing the fateful knock on the door, a group of very disparate women, with varying degrees of enthusiasm and reluctance, discover something quite magical, enriching and unifying about the power of music.

The result is something equally magical to watch, thanks to first class acting all round and a storyline which pulls absolutely no punches when it comes to the price some of the ladies pay. There is indeed a knock on the door; the fall-out is heart-breaking, played out with a sincerity and honesty which are devastating.

Leading it all is Kristin Scott Thomas as Colonel’s wife Kate, starchy, cold and interfering on the surface as she appoints herself to weigh in on the RSM’s wife’s designated territory and starts organising worthwhile activities. Beneath the forbidding exterior is a heart shattered by grief and desperately needing to find a way to express itself. It’s a role played to perfection in a wonderful, winning performance.

Alongside her and much more salt of the earth is Sharon Horgan’s Lisa, and the two are chalk and cheese as they try to bring the choir into being, Lisa constantly exasperated and Kate high-handed and seemingly unaware of the sleights she rains down on pretty much everyone. The film is as much about Kate and Lisa’s coming together as it is about the coming together of the choir. Adding to it is the lack of familiar faces in the choir itself. It somehow makes it all seem so much more real. The result is compelling stuff, deeply touching, raw and remarkable.