Writers Rosanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard work together with director Peter Cattaneo on British comedy feature Military Wives, available on VOD today. When war takes their partners away, a group of women find themselves searching for something to occupy their minds. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan, this is a film about the birth of a strong friendship between women of different backgrounds brought together by the act of singing. (KIZJ: 4/5)
Review by Contributing Editor Katusha Jin
“Kate” (Kristin Scott Thomas) has lived alone whilst her husband was at war before. She knows what it is like and she knows what to expect. As she drives into her compound, she expects to be greeted with nothing but respect–she is the wife of a colonel after all. She shows no hint of fear or concern to those around her as she performs her daily errands, but what she feels inside is a completely different matter. As a tight-lipped woman who is used to being in control of herself, she shows little emotion, even to her husband. Yet even with all her efforts, there are still occasional moments when we see sadness flicker across her face. Does he really have to leave her to an empty home again?
“Lisa” (Sharon Horgan) works at the local convenience store where her teenage daughter, “Frankie” (India Ria Amarteifio), helps out reluctantly. Lisa is an independent woman who takes no nonsense. Being a mother to a teenage daughter hasn’t been easy either. She is not happy that her husband has to leave and makes it known to him in a much blunter way than Kate does.
Soon it is time for the partners to leave for Afghanistan. It’s late in the evening, they pack their rucksacks, kiss their wives and children, and head off. At coffee morning, all the women gather to chat with each other and share their feelings. As the wife of the sergeant-major, Lida is placed in charge of helping this community of women stick together, which usually means making sure there’s enough tea and biscuits for everyone. This is what has worked in the past, so no one thought about making changes until Kate steps in and taps her mug with her teaspoon as a call for attention. As someone experienced with this, she is adamant that she is the right authority figure to help the women through this. Kate asks for the ladies to bring up suggestions on what they can do together to take their mind off their situations. Some of the ladies chuckle at the idea, but others start to entertain the thought. Newcomer “Sarah” (Amy James-Kelly) suggests that they try singing together. This leads to some awkward glances and laughs.
Although there is a clear rift between Kate and the other ladies, they soon realize that there may have been something valuable in her idea. Their usual daily lives don’t seem to be enough, so they agree to try a knitting group, only without Kate. Discontent with the way things are working out, Kate heads over to Lisa’s place with new ideas, and sees the leftover bottles and knitting on the garden table. Frankie swiftly tells her it was a one time thing because, well, none of the women know how to knit. Kate and Lisa continue to butt heads, but agree to try singing together for group morale. Despite the two leading ladies’ polar opposite approaches, somewhere along the way something wonderful begins to develop–the women start realizing what strength they can gain by sticking together.
Rosanne Flynn and Rachel Tunnard write a witty and heart-warming script for the audience to enjoy. Although the Military Wives is not a story filled with surprises, it is scattered with flavorful moments that deeply move its audience. Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan are very entertaining to watch! The personalities of the characters are drastically different, and their clashes draw a wonderful comparison of how people deal with loss and fear in a variety of ways. All the actors are fantastic in their roles, and they convincingly show how their layers are gradually peeled back and a growing bond blossoms between them.
It’s very encouraging to see so many women in starring roles, but I am somewhat surprised that the directing role was not given to a woman too, given the nature of the subject. I watched this movie at the 2020 Athena Film Festival, and the audience reacted in unison at the sweet, fun, and tender moments. Military Wives throws everyone onto an emotional rollercoaster as we cheer for the women and their newfound goals as an amateur military choir. This film is a reminder to us all about the importance of support from and for our families and friends. Definitely a great film to watch with family or friends, and since it is now available on VOD, a great pick for everyone staying at home!
Middle Photo: “Kate” (Kristin Scott Thomas) leading a rehearsal
Bottom Photo: Military Wives mid-rehearsal
Photo Credit: Aimee Spinks
There is a lot of conversation about singing, daily coping mechanism, relationships with children, and more!