I've been taking advantage of certain studios making current releases available to stream at home. The choice is limited, and MILITARY WIVES is perhaps not the movie I would have plumped for on a Saturday night had the full choice of London's cineplexes been made available to me. Nonetheless, it did want I predicted and wanted - it was lightly funny, rather moving and allowed for some catharsis in these strange times.
Based on a true story, the film is about how women cope when their service-people go off to war. There are lots of small but moving moments - of a woman packing away her husband's things as she becomes effectively a single mother for six months - or another woman telling a protestor she doesn't have the luxury of being against the war, she has to live with it. You have to admire the grit and no-nonsense courage of these women who keep home life going, knowing their loved ones may not come back. What I really like about the film is that it shows you a slice of life - with its own codes and expectations - that I hadn't known existed. Because the wives are in some ways as regimented as their spouses - and when the fighters go to war, the highest ranking wives have to come up with "clubs" that keep the wives' morale boosted.
And so we have the Military Wives Choir - led by the no-nonsense Sharon Horgan (CATASTROPHE) and the uptight closed off Kristin Scott Thomas (FOUR WEDDINGS etc). Both actors are playing to type and the personality clash is both inevitable and inevitably resolved. Naturally, Sharon Horgan's character wants the women to sing pop songs and to be inclusive. Naturally, Scott Thomas' character wants the women to be dignified and to actually practice scales and keep time. Quelle surprise - it takes both skillsets to create a choir that is genuinely good enough to sing at the Royal Albert Hall's memorial concert. Naturally there has to be a third act falling out and making up, just in time for the big concert. Naturally, one of the wives turns out to have an amazing voice.
So none of this film is surprising in its broad strokes, and it's only intermittently funny in its scenes. One wishes Sharon Horgan might have been allowed a pass at the script. But what the film does do is show something of the real ordeal that these spouses endure, and some of the tougher details of military life. I can't deny that it got a little dusty in the room on a couple of occasions, and genuinely put a smile on my face by the end. The film appeals - after all - to that same spirit that has all clapping for carers. In adversity, we seek shared uplifting experiences. Which makes this film rather fitting for this moment.
MILITARY WIVES is rated PG and has a running time of 113 minutes. It is available to stream on Sky, Amazon, Apple etc.