4 out of 5 stars
Every nation has a different relationship with its military. Some countries celebrate the work of their soldiers, while others can tend to treat them as a necessity for national security. The people who tend to be forgotten within this discussion are the spouses of those who serve their country. In 2010, a group of wives in the British Armed Forces started a choir as a means of developing camaraderie and support for the partners who were left behind while the service personnel went to serve in Afghanistan. A group that would go on to become represented around the world by over 2000+ individuals over the past decade.
Inspired by the documentary that showed the impact that the music group had on spirits of military spouses, director Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty) brings audiences the heart-warming tale. The film is based on the actual events that led to the world-wide phenomenon with Kate Barkley (Kristin Scott Thomas) working with the spouses who remain on the base after the battalion is deployed. She enlists the assistance of Lisa (Sharon Horgan), as the natural connection to the network of wives. While thinking through activities to bring the women together, the suggestion for a choir is put forward and receives a lukewarm reception.
When the other activities fail to motivate the women, Lisa and Kate manage to rally a small group to begin singing. The result proves to be disastrous at first, because everyone has different views on the style of music and purposes of the club. As they work through these challenges, things begin to come together for the ensemble and they begin to discover the talent amongst this unassuming band of sisters. A rare opportunity is presented to the choir to sing at The Festival of Remembrance on national television. A task that proves to show the resolve of the relationships forged during their time together. These connections are tested even further when tragedy strikes the base and the families of the singing troupe.
The unifying effect of music is a fascinating thing to watch in this subtle gripping tale of friendship and community. Peter Cattaneo taps into the magical bridge that singing manages to provide for this group. Women who are dealing with emotional extremes as they wait to hear from their spouses at war. It serves as a salve during times of pain and encouragement as well as those dark moments of loneliness and anger.
Military Wives manages to rise above the standard fare that is usually associated with inspirational films. Watching these women deal with the harsh realities of loss, grief and fear make for a beautiful depiction of the realities of the military. The screenplay manages to show that tragedy does not discriminate and that everyone needs help at various times of life. The performances of the ensemble cast manage to show that even though people deal with hardship differently, each person is needed at different times and ways. This is one of those films that will quietly creep up on you and will unexpectedly touch parts of your heart that need the solace of song and connection with your fellow humans.
REEL DIALOGUE: We need to thank the individuals that put their lives at risk for the sake of the community
Bush fire fighters, police officers, the armed forces, ambulance drivers and more need our thanks and appreciation. Watching people in these services and mere strangers willing to assist the hurting during this film makes one wonder about the heart of mankind.
What makes these men and women willing to put forward their lives for the sake of others? Having the heart of God can be something to consider, but whatever their motivation, this is a time where we need to show gratitude for their sacrifice and pray for their safety in these dire moments when no one else is willing to go to the aid of others.
‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.’ Hebrews 10:24-25
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Russ Matthews works for City Bible Forum as the Engaging Manager. He enjoys developing large public forums throughout the city to engage workers with the bigger questions of life. He oversees The Edge and Reel Dialogue.