FilmReview by BrianPenn
Reaching into my box of cinematic clichés I find a choice of heart-warming, feelgood or life-affirming as the most appropriate description of Military Wives; the latest offering from director Peter Cattaneo. And it comes as no surprise that his biggest hit was the Full Monty. There is real symmetry between both stories as the opening titles fade to the words ‘inspired by true events’. It has a cosiness and familiarity that resonates; ordinary people conquering adversity simply by sticking together.
The wives contemplate life as their partners leave for a six month tour of Afghanistan. Colonel’s wife Kate (Kristin Scott-Thomas) is grieving for son Jamie who was killed serving in the same province. The wife of newly appointed RSM Lisa (Sharon Horgan) is struggling with wayward daughter Frankie (India Amarteifio); and by virtue of hubby's rank is now in charge of pastoral care. Meanwhile, newly married rookie Sarah (Amy James-Kelly) feels lost at the sudden separation. Kate sticks in the proverbial oar as Lisa tries to gain the wives' interest.
Sarah suggests singing as a means of passing the time and keeping minds off the obvious. Kate and Lisa soon lock horns as they hover between a singing club and fully fledged choir. Gradually, the wives bond as the group endures through the highs and lows of army life. Lisa rediscovers her love for music as the wives are awarded a spot in the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
The film relies on standard characters set against an ever present emotional landscape; members of the armed forces regularly lay their lives on the line for Queen and country. Meanwhile their partners battle on the home front as they anxiously seek reassurance. Military Wives feels hopelessly sentimental as it tugs clumsily at the heart strings. But there is something redeeming in a perceptive script by Rosanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard. Nuggets of wisdom balance the sugar coated sentiment and make some valid points along the way; women virtually serve with their husbands as they imagine them dodging a bullet or IED. Moreover, they suffer the agony of separation and sometimes bereavement. This film has its heart in the right place even with its dangerously high sugar content.