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MILITARY WIVES

Military Wives is unapologetically corny and predictable…yet somehow it works. I tried to resist, but I love Kristin Scott Thomas and ultimately I surrendered to the movie. Although it is written by two women (Rachel Tunnard and Rosanne Flynne) it was directed by Peter Cattaneo, the man who made the quintessential underdog movie The Full Monty more than twenty years ago. Clearly he hasn’t forgotten the recipe that turned that modest film into a worldwide sensation. The final ingredient is the knowledge that the screenplay is derived from a true story—or rather, a compendium of true stories.

Scott Thomas plays the wife of a commanding officer at a British military base. An educated, no-nonsense person, she takes it upon herself to organize activities for the women whose husbands and partners have been deployed to Afghanistan. She immediately locks horns with the plain-spoken, working-class woman (Sharon Horgan, the star and creator of Divorce and Catastrophe) who runs the base’s PX and shares the other spouse’s aversion to regimentation of any kind.

Against all odds, Scott Thomas persuades the ladies to sign up for choir practice—or as Horgan insists on calling it, singing club. It turns out that there is some natural talent in the group—as well as some hopelessly tone-deaf volunteers. In spite of bumps in the road, these disparate women begin to bond through the power of music, which leads them down unexpected paths.

All of this takes place against the backdrop of a military base where at any moment a phone call or a knock on the door can bring the worst possible news. The through-line of the script is embroidered with vignettes illustrating the drama of everyday life for women who must cope with loneliness and grief while trying to function as wives, mothers and friends.

Call it manipulative if you like, but the movie traffics in some universal truths: we all need a support group in order to get through difficult passages in life, and there is nothing that brings people together quite like music.

I won’t reveal the postscript of the film, following the choir’s eventual triumph. Suffice it to say that the good feelings it engenders resonate all the more when you see the inspiration for it. At a time when our world is drowning in uncertainty, Military Wives offers hope. It’s the very definition of a feel-good movie.

Military Wives is available on many platforms including Hulu, Prime, AppleTV and individual theaters around the country. For more information, click HERE.

 

 

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Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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