MILITARY WIVES – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Movie theaters are still closed due to Covid-19, and there are only so many times you can re-watch old episodes of The Gilmore Girls or Bonanza on television. So, instead, I want to tell you about a new movie that would have been a feel-good hit in theaters this Memorial Day weekend. Instead, it will be available to order and enjoy on any major video-on-demand platform and included for Hulu subscribers starting May 22nd. I’m talking about the film Military Wives, it’s inspired by the BBC television series The Choir. Both are based on the real-life origin story of the first all military wives choir in the UK.
The film centers on a group of women from different backgrounds whose husbands and partners are shipped away from the fictional Fort Griffith to serve in Afghanistan in 2010. Co-led by the colonels’ structured and oftentimes rigid wife Kate (Kristin Scott Thomas) and the newly promoted Sergeant Major’s wife Lisa (Sharon Horgan), who is new to being in a leadership role. Of course, their personalities clash as they start the choir for the wives’ support group on base.
The film is gently directed by Peter Cattaneo, who gave us the 1997 hit movie The Full Monty which was also filled with songs. He admits in interviews that he came to the project knowing almost nothing of the lives of military families. However, he was excited to explore a way of life that has rarely been seen on the big screen. As well as make another film with music and singing at its core.
Military Wives is at its strongest when it shows how the women have to face the day-to-day grind of dealing with their loved ones’ absences. They learn to lean on each other in the group. It’s heartbreaking as they must help each other get through some of the military life’s most painful realities. The film is great at showing the power of music. And how singing, even if you aren’t very good at it at first, is medicine for the soul. As the group progresses and gets better musically, they’re invited to perform on television for the British Festival of Remembrance event. This would make even seasoned performers sweat, let alone this amateur choir. Adding to the pressure on the women is the song Lisa writes for the choir to sing for the event. The lyrics are based on letters they wrote and received from their loved ones abroad. I dare anyone to keep their eyes dry during this part of the film! Will the women pull it off or fall flat on their faces on national television? Well, you’ll just have to watch the film to find out.
The filmmakers of Military Wives said that it was essential to them that the film realistically portrays the daily lives of women whose partners are abroad risking their lives in service to their country. After all, there are lots of films about what soldiers go through in military life and on the battlefield. It’s about time we get to see a movie take a gentle look at the toll it takes on the families left behind. All while managing to wrap the story in a blanket of good music.
This film probably won’t win any Oscars because it’s not edgy enough. However, it is a solid feel-good patriotic film, so it’s a perfect movie for this Memorial Day Weekend. You can’t go wrong with this film about the first small band of women who started the choir that would go on to spawn a worldwide musical movement — now serving more than 2,300 people across a network of seventy-five choirs on British military bases across the UK and abroad.
I give Military Wives a 4-star rating because, like music, it’s good for the soul.
Directed by: Peter Cattaneo
Written by: Rosanne Flynn, Rachel Turnnard
Selig Rating 4 Stars
Running Time: 1hr 52min
Drama / Comedy
Wide VOD Release: May 22nd
Starring: Kristin Scott Thomas, Sharon Hogan, Emma Lowndes
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.