Friday, 6 September 2019

Military Wives Sings

Editor's Note: For the third consecutive year, Dawn and The Husband will be spending chunks of the next fortnight attending the Toronto International Film Festival, known to the locals as TIFF. While they can now proudly call themselves seasoned veterans at this madness, they have still selected a modest, albeit an increased number of films, (7) because they are old and lining up for hours is tough on the joints; have no interest in midnight madness viewings; and that number is honestly far more films than anybody really needs to view in less than ten days. TIFF still serves as a tremendous distraction from the world's ills, the impending High Holidays, and asshole would-be dictators whose names rhyme with Dump and Thug. (If you are British, you can reasonably now add the asshole who rhymes with Doris to this list.) The next several posts will focus exclusively on TIFF and will offer very quick bullet point reviews for the movies seen. 

I have at least three hard and fast rules that must be followed when choosing a film. 

1. Never ever attend a slasher/horror/zombie film. I simply like sleeping at night and trust me when I say, this particular genre is lousy on the REM cycles. As well, women tend to fare poorly during these movies.

2. Always attend any film that involves music or a choir. Choir geeks understand the emotional attachment to singing with friends, so movies about choirs usually involve tight relationships, emotional weepiness, and bonding. The Pitch Perfect trilogy, Sister Act (1 and 2), Joyful Noise, it really doesn't matter how bad the flick is, I will love and revere each moment.

3. I will pay hard cash money for a seat at any film starring Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Annette Bening, or Kristin Scott Thomas.

Today's TIFF installment followed all three of Dawn's Movie Rules. 

Military Wives is a lovely, winsome, often poignant and sometimes bitingly funny movie based on the real-life stories of the Military Wives choirs that have swept across the United Kingdom. It is a movie that has few surprises and the plot at times was predictable and could be a bit pedantic but I loved every single minute of it. Directed by Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty) and starring the luminous and aforementioned Kristin Scott Thomas along with the very funny and entertaining Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), Military Wives had me laughing, crying, singing, and reminiscing about how much camaraderie exists between people who sing together. The women left behind while their spouses have deployed to Afghanistan are desperate for some thread of normalcy to keep their emotional heads above water. The formation of their choir offers them a welcome distraction from the economic difficulties faced by military families as well as from the hardships of single parenthood. 

There are the requisite tears and a few awkwardly funny moments but it is the music and the fact that it isn't always flawless that had me glued to the screen. Singing doesn't need to be perfect. It simply needs to be. Sometimes a movie doesn't need to have an agenda nor does it need to be thought-provoking. It simply needs to entertain.

A final word about the magnificent Sharon Horgan. If you haven't taken the time to watch the Amazon Prime series Catastrophe you are missing out on one of the great comedic performances of the past several years. Military Wives could and should be her theatrical coming out party. She was in town and on stage answering questions after the screening. She is simply delightful and is The Husband's latest celebrity crush. 

Military Wives doesn't have a release date until March but it is getting two enthusiastic YUPS from both The Husband and me. 


Peter Cattaneo, Sharon Horgan, Jason Flemyng



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