(director: Peter Cattaneo; screenwriter: Rosalyn Flynn/Rachel Tunnard; cinematographer: Hubert Taczanowski; editor: Anne Sopel, Lesley Walker; music: Lorne Balfe; cast: Kristin Scott Thomas (Kate), Sharon Horgan (Lisa), Greg Wise (Richard), Emma Lowndes (Annie), Jason Flemyng (Crooks), Gaby French (Jess), Lara Rossi (Ruby), Amy James-Kelly (Sarah), India Ria Amarteifio (Frankie); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Rory Aitken, Ben Pugh, Piers Tempest; Bleeker Street; 2019)
“It’s a tempting film to like despite its drawbacks.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A derivative and tame feel-good dramedy helmed by Brit filmmaker Peter Cattaneo (“The Full Monty”/”Lucky Break”) and scripted by Rosalyn Flynn and Rachel Tunnard. It’s inspired by true events of the women who gained unlikely fame in 2011 by forming a military wives choir on a military base. The mild comedy, following his hit film The Full Monty (1970) template, fails to raise his fallen stock as a director, though it’s pleasant enough and credibly entertaining for a middle-brow audience.
At a military base the spouses of the military wives go off on another dangerous tour in Afghanistan, making the wives anxious. The newcomer to the base, the chilly Kate (Kristin Scott Thomas), already lost a son in the war, whose husband is the base commander Richard (Greg Wise), assumes a leadership role among the women. She appoints the popular Lisa (Sharon Horgan) as the social affairs chairperson. The two opposite personalities form an uneasy partnership, clashing often, but in the end find a common ground to exist as they decide on forming a choir of military wives. Things build as the misfit wives struggle to make a go of this project, but by the final act we see them as they perform at the Royal Albert Hall on Remembrance Day.
The formulaic film follows a familiar story we’ve seen often, and to its credit, does it well. So we know when to cheer and when to mope, and everything moves along as expected. Though tensions seemed forced and strained, everything conforms to expectations and moves along in order to win over the audience with its charm and good intentions.
This is not my kind of film, but for those who find this subgenre sweet music to their ears this film will deliver what it promises thanks mainly to the two stars. Thomas has range as a performer to do both light comedy and dark drama, while Horgan is gifted as a likable comic.
It’s a tempting film to like despite its drawbacks.
REVIEWED ON 5/17/2020 GRADE: C+