‘We don’t have the privilege of being against the war, we’re married to it,’ says Lisa (Sharon Horgan), as the Flitcroft Military Wives Choir passes a group protesting the Afghanistan war. With their men off on active service, these wives are left in an empty army barracks trying not to fear the worst. This is an especially big ask for Kate (Kristin Scott Thomas) whose son died on the last tour of duty.
As a distraction, Kate muscles in on Lisa’s work as community organiser for the wives. They co-lead a choir with a studied nonchalance that doesn’t fool the other women. Theirs is a class war, as expressed when Kate conducts the choir via classical references, while Lisa insists on pop music. There’s a fun tension between the two, with Scott Thomas leaning into upper-class crispness and Horgan camping out in salt-of-the-earth groundedness.
As with ‘The Full Monty’, director Peter Cattaneo gives each of his ensemble a moment to shine. Whether it’s an inability to sing in tune or processing the shock of a death, every subplot relates to the rousing power of community. Warm, funny and poignant notes are played as the choir transforms from a cat’s chorus to a legit outfit. Yet the third act is bogged down with details of Kate’s backstory, and what should be a euphoric and cathartic finale is underwhelming. Still, one solo act shines: Scott Thomas is able to conjure layers of tortured emotion just by answering a phone. KST – unsurprisingly – is the MVP.