Military Wives sound a high note at TIFF

Scrappy little comedy difficult to resist

Kristin Scott Thomas directs the choir in Military Wives.

My first day at Toronto’s International Film Festival, and the fest opened on high note with Military Wives, a film inspired by the real-life choirs formed by military spouses while their men are on deployment.

Military Wives‘ script is more than a little formulaic. One of the young wives turns out to have a huge singing talent. The film’s two leads, Kristin Scott Thomas—the biggest name in the movie—and Sharon Horgan, as rival choir mistresses, start off trading barbs, begin to develop a friendship, then completely lose it in a verbal cat fight in a parking lot. And there’s the predictable scene when one of the women receives the terrible news that her husband has been killed in combat. The other wives rally around her, and the result is the heartfelt song that the choir takes to London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Military Wives was directed by Peter Cattaneo, whose credits include The Fully Monty. Instead of unemployed steel workers stripping to make a living, this tale is about the spouses of service men trying to keep their spirits up on a soulless military base.

But in spite of its zero-to-hero storyline, Military Wives is a scrappy little comedy that is difficult to resist. Its dialogue rings true, it offers sparky little turns from supporting players, and Scott Thomas and Horgan’s performances make it sing.

Best of all, it respects the sacrifices that military spouses make for a cause that no character in the film seems interested in justifying.


About rosemarymccracken

Rosemary McCracken is a Toronto-based fiction writer.
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