Military Wives [TIFF19 Review]

British feel-good films have a very specific feel to them. They are a template that we have seen but they are also very effective to make you feel happy for their duration. And in a period where most films are depressing and hard to watch, sitting down for two hours and watching a group of women who supports each other is a nice change of pace. It might not be a pitch-perfect film but the fact that you walk away crying of joy is a nice change from the emotional wreckage that most Festival films will give you,

When their partners are away fighting for their country, the wives are left on the base alone, taking care of everything. The woman bored out of their minds and trying to forget that they could get the worst news of their lives at any given moment, form a choir. Friendships form, the woman learn how to lean on each other instead of keeping everything inside. This journey of self-discovery leads them to quickly being swept away into a media frenzies that change their lives forever.

With a strong ensemble, brilliantly lead with the strong performances of the two leads, Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Hogan, Military Wives never try to reinvent the genre. It’s a simple film but a film that’s effective in making you feel better. The relationships feel real and the slow discovery of what makes every single one of them tick is well done. I also loved that only one of the partners is really important in the film and even then, he never is the catalyst of self-discovery. The film is really about the wives and because they are at the centre of it all and their partners are almost non-existant (in a way), it feels like it’s their movies. I do wish some of the supporting characters had been a bit more explored, outside of three really most of them are given small storylines and some personality but they never are really fully explored.

The biggest relationship of the film is the one between the leading ladies, Kate (Scott Thomas) and Lisa (Hogan). Their relationship anchors the film and while others gravitate around them, they are clearly the most important story. It’s only when they start getting along that the choir starts really working. When they work together and not against each other, they are able to do what they both wanted, help the woman. But it’s only when they start trusting each other that they can truly start something great. Their personal story parallels the others, one trying to connect with her teenager while the other tries to mourn the loss of her child. It’s only when they start being friends that they can both start to learn. Lisa learns from Kate and Kate from Lisa, it’s truly the love story of the film. Without them, there is not a movie and both actresses are able to harness emotions and use them when needed. It also helps that they are both hilarious.

Military Wives won’t blow you away but it’s not supposed to. It’s a nice little change of pace that brings a little good in your life. For the two hours, you are transported in their world and it’s good fun. With characters that you could run in on the street and a story that is inspiring, Military Wives continues the trend of British feel-good film. What makes it special is that it never feels cheap. Even when reveals are done, they feel earned. It’s a small thing that keeps up the pace and doesn’t take you out. A film that knows exactly what it is and goes in a straight line to go to the point.

A real crowd please, Military Wives is the kind of movie your mom will love. A future family movie that will be watched with everyone after a good family dinner. It’s the perfect little film that entertains you and touches you.

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