Military Wives Review

Military Wives
Left back at base while their partners are away on a tour in Afghanistan, a group of women cheer themselves up by forming a choir. A borderline disastrous enterprise at first, they gradually improve and find themselves becoming a media sensation.

by Liz Beardsworth |
Published on
Release Date:

06 Mar 2020

Original Title:

Military Wives

The Full Monty director Peter Cattaneo makes a welcome return to the genre of his greatest hit, offering another British human-interest tale full of heart and warmth. Starring Sharon Horgan and Kristin Scott Thomas at the head of a large but solid ensemble cast, it follows the semi-true tale — described on screen as “inspired by” real events driven by über choir leader Gareth Malone, who acts as a consultant here — of the country’s first choir made up of “military wives”, whiling away the hours of worry on base by having a good old sing.

Granted, there are no narrative surprises as the women evolve from ragtag racket to performing at the Albert Hall. Yet as this familiar arc plays out, Cattaneo and writers Roseanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard gently and sensitively offer small insights into the reality of being the partner stuck back home as a loved one risks daily injury, or even death, overseas. Within this group of strong but vulnerable women, individuals stand out: young newlywed Sarah (former Coronation Street actor Amy-James Kelly), just arrived on the base and desperately worried about her husband’s first tour of duty; Scott Thomas as stoical Colonel’s wife and natural leader (though some would say bossy-boots) Kate, she and husband Richard (Greg Wise) discreetly nursing their own heartache over a son lost in action. At the head of this disparate band is Horgan as plainspoken Lisa, more concerned with giving the girls a few hours of distracting fun than rivalling King’s College Choir. Less acerbic than the actor’s previous characters in both Catastrophe and Pulling, Lisa nonetheless combines the strength, empathy and wry humour we’ve come to associate with Horgan on screen, and once again she’s a joy to watch.

Where The Full Monty really scored was in its arch wit despite its hapless protagonists’ relatable worries, and while suffused in gentle comedy, the laugh rate in this spiritual sequel is notably less — perhaps apt given the nature of its subject. Still, it would be a cynical heart that isn’t moved by the group’s daily heartbreaks and nagging anxieties, and indeed, their exhilarating moments of triumph.

Not as good as The Full Monty or Brassed Off but better than Swimming With Men and Fisherman’s Friends, Military Wives is a familiar, entertaining hymn to the power of people coming together in adversity.
Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us