Star Rating:

Military Wives

Director: Peter Cattaneo

Actors: Kristin Scott Thomas, Emma Lowndes

Release Date: Friday 6th March 2020

Genre(s): Comedy, Drama

Running time: 112 minutes

Everything about this film is mishandled and crass...

When their husbands go on manoeuvres in Afghanistan, Lisa (Sharon Horgan) is tasked with keeping the wives on the base occupied. Within the choir, Lisa's cavalier attitude irks the recently bereaved Kate (Kristin Scott Thomas). When they are asked to perform at a televised memorial service the choir finds out they have bitten off more than they can chew.

This movie is indictive of the torpor that British cinema finds itself in. Lacking the imagination to produce anything new and interesting, it's left to gnaw on its shoes for subsistence. Apt because the only people that would find something enjoyable in this film are those with brains addled from leather poisoning from the amount of bootlicking they do.

If this film is so bad then why have I given it two stars? Well, a one-star film is just incompetent, they are rare and can be entertaining in their own way. One of the main real problems of this film is that it largely achieves what it aims to do and that is why it is such an awful experience to endure.

Back in 2012 when the original Military Wives Choir cursed our screens and airwaves, it was already a tasteless and mawkish fanning of the flames of jingoism. Now eight years later as the war in Afghanistan still rumbles on and every November the UK tries to outdo itself to see how weird it can get with the Poppy Appeal, its very existence on our cinema screams tactless.

Comedy films live and die on their direction, as the performance, script and editing need to be finely tuned to ensure they work in tandem. But to call the directing serviceable would be generous. Peter Cattaneo is most famous for the '90s hit ‘The Full Monty’ and it is amazing to see that since then he has sat down, had a long hard look at himself, rolled up his sleeves and not developed one iota.

How it can be billed as a comedy is a joke within itself. In the entire running time, it clocks in three gags that all work on the same principle that two minor characters make an off-hand quip to each other that will neither give depth or development to anything that is happening.

That also brings us on to the cast. I feel betrayed by Sharon Horgan’s presence in this film and I can’t tell if her apparent lack of interest in at least trying to salvage something of the film is a blessing or a curse. The secondary characters all work on the premise of having one trait that they will deploy with grim regularity, like an entire cast of pull string toys.

Even a lead actor like Kristian Scott Thomas doesn’t get much to do as her character has all of two settings, being mardy and shopping. Her whole arch is basically entirely focused on what is shown to be a unhealthy addiction to shopping channels but rather than any resolution the takeaway seems to be “women do be like that”.

The script is also so wet it could be used as a means of waterboarding. As soon as everything is set up you can just tell how the film is going to play out beat by beat. This also makes it feel extra long as you're far in front of the developments. It is also not helped by the fact that it clocks in at almost two hours, which is two hours longer than it should be.

Everything about this film is mishandled and crass. The absolute best I could say about it is it comes across as ‘Press F to Pay Respect: The Movie’. Truly terrible.

This review is dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan.