By Lynn Venhaus
With humor and heart, “Military Wives” spotlights the unsung heroines during wartime – the spouses who keep it together at home.
While their partners are away serving in Afghanistan, a group of British women on the home front form a choir and quickly find themselves at the center of a media sensation and global movement. They were the first of 75 military wives’ choirs across the UK and overseas.
Based on a true story and inspired by a 2011 BBC reality television series, this film tells about a band of misfit women who form a choir. First, it’s for something to do on a military base while their husband have a tour of duty in Afghanistan. But then it takes on bigger meaning.
Directed by Peter Cattaneo, who is responsible for the crowd-pleaser “The Full Monty” two decades ago, it is purely formula. But that’s OK. In movies like this, you must highlight certain people and their conflicts – inner turmoil and out-in-the-open challenges. It’s predictable but in spite of itself, one still enjoys this journey.
The women will bond, laugh, tell intimate stories and flourish through music. This helps ease their stress and fears for their loved ones in combat. While much of it is fun, it is not all light – and that’s understandable.
Leading the cast is Kristin Scott Thomas as a colonel’s uptight wife, so Kate is in charge but she’s not likable – controlled and judgmental. She is also dealing with enormous grief.
A sergeant’s wife, who couldn’t be more different, is supposed to be given more to do, but Lisa and Kate clash. Lisa is played by Sharon Horgan, of Amazon Prime’s hilarious “Catastrophe.” She and Kate must work through several issues before they can work in harmony.
The women are asked to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London for “A Day of Remembrance.” It will be televised. Their stage fright ramps up.
There is nothing easy about their journey, but it’s realistic, as written by Rosanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard, and their bonds feel authentic.
The music score is interesting, too, particularly with the pop song choices from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
A pleasant diversion, “Military Wives” lovingly tells their poignant stories at a time we are open to hear them.
“Military Wives” is a comedy-drama directed by Peter Cattaneo and starring, Kristen Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan. It is rated PG-13 for some strong language and sexual references. Run time is: 1 hr. 52 min. Lynn’s Grade: B. This movie was released on Hulu.
A version of this review appeared in the Webster-Kirkwood Times.
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.