Monday, May 25, 2020

Movie with Abe: Military Wives

Military Wives
Directed by Peter Cattaneo
Released May 22, 2020

Being in the military is an extraordinary commitment, one that takes people away from their families and sends them into places from which they may not return. Their time serving creates bonds that those who haven’t experienced it can’t possibly understand, and it may transform them in unrecognizable ways, if and when they return home safely. There is also an effect on those who know full well that their loved ones are constantly in harm’s way, and they need a support system both to help them cope with the absence of someone and to give them a community.

Lisa (Sharon Horgan) is the official representative for a group of British wives whose husbands have deployed to Afghanistan, taking over from Kate (Kristin Scott Thomas). Unimpressed by Lisa’s lack of action and belief that socializing will suffice to keep them busy, Kate refuses to give up the spotlight, and encourages them to choose an activity. When the group decides on singing to fill their time, Lisa and Kate clash over leadership, slowly steering a disorganized bunch of occasionally enthusiastic participants from a cringe-worthy chorus to a far more driven and presentable team ready and eager to sing in front of a large audience.

This film is inspired by the true story of the women who actually formed the Military Wives Choirs, and this dramatization does a great job of framing it in a comedic context. Setting it up as a rivalry between Kate’s traditional tendencies and Lisa’s more lackadaisical attitude is a strong recipe for an entertaining ride, one which features some solid singing in a somewhat expected narrative. These characters are effective stand-ins for a variety of audiences who can relate to the experiences and relationships portrayed on screen.

Horgan is an actress best known for her TV work on shows like “Catastrophe,” and here she points on a moderately serious front as Lisa, who would rather let things happen then force them. She’s well-paired with Thomas, a veteran actress known for much more dramatic work but also capable of excellent comedy, as in her Emmy-nominated guest appearance on “Fleabag.” The rest of the ensemble fits in nicely, and director Peter Cattaneo, a filmmaker whose sparse resume includes “The Full Monty,” skillfully guides them to create a product that is enjoyable without being too silly. This is a heartwarming and enjoyable film that feels just right as a tribute to those who remain at home and find unique ways to contribute to morale.


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