REVIEW: ‘It’s the movie equivalent of soup’
Military Wives is what you would call a feel-good movie.
That doesn't have to be a derisive term - why shouldn't you feel good about what you're watching, even if that means sometimes it's a little sentimental or a little predictable.
Feel-good movies are designed to be comforting, make you feel a little better about the world and the people in it. It doesn't always have to be nihilism.
And you know Military Wives is going to be a feel-good movie, not just because of its sunny bus ads, but because the opening chords of its score, as a car drives through picturesque English countryside with its rolling green hills, sounds a lot like The Great British Bake Off's theme song.
It's a signal that this is like cinematic soup - nothing too fancy but something familiar that will alleviate any anxiety you may have.
Inspired by the true story of the Military Wives choir movement in the UK, the film stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan as two wives living on the Flitcroft military base.
Kate (Scott Thomas) is the wife of a colonel so is seen as an authority figure among the women left behind when their spouses are deployed to Afghanistan. Lisa (Horgan) is the wife of a recently promoted officer and, as a result, is now responsible for shepherding the wives through social activities.
There's this odd quirk that the wives' standing is dependent on their spouse's rank despite it not being at all reflective of the women's abilities or suitability - but, hey, who are we laypeople to question the venerable institution of the military and all of its wisdom?
Lisa is popular and easygoing while Kate is dictatorial and a traditionalist.
After the loss of their son, Kate decides to get involved with the social activities despite not having an official role. In her grief, her mantra is to keep busy and keep your mind off things, a philosophy she applies to all the women on the base, worried about their partners' safety overseas.
After a failed attempt at a knitting club, the women decide to form a choir. Kate's imposing approach - insisting on scales, sheet music and choral songs - immediately grates on Lisa, who's more interested in pop ditties from Tears for Fears, Cyndi Lauper and Yazoo and ensuring everyone has fun.
It's a classic clash between two women who are different in how they process things, but are ultimately good-hearted, well-intentioned and want the same end, which is not power but bolstering this tight-knit community they're part of.
That they're both empathetic is due to two commanding performances from Scott Thomas and Horgan, who never let their characters be anything other than flawed, three-dimensional humans.
While the relationship between Kate and Lisa can be fractious, it's not mean-spirited and only really culminates in one particularly bad row. This isn't Bride Wars, exploiting the awful stereotypes of the competitive female.
There's a likeable supporting cast as well, and subplots about women finding confidence, discovering their talents and the restorative power of friendship and bonding.
Military Wives may follow a formula of sorts and you'll see every plot turn coming - plus it can't resist an ending montage set to Sister Sledge - but it'll put a smile on your face nonetheless.
Military Wives is in cinemas from today
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