Two great actresses go to war in this emotional and thoroughly British feelgood comedy drama from Peter Cattaneo, director of 1997’s famous British victory The Full Monty.
Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan play the combative mother hens scratching out battle lines as they struggle to put an all-women amateur choir through singing boot camp.
They’re attempting to boost morale while their soldier spouses are on a six-month tour of Afghanistan.
But squabbling, stage fright and a betrayal of a confidence threatens their prestigious appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in a Remembrance Day concert.
Best known for Four Weddings and A Funeral, it’s a surprise to see the ever-elegant Scott Thomas return to low-budget crowd pleasing material such as this, having spent her career mixing minor roles in Hollywood blockbusters with major ones in French arthouse movies.
Incapable of giving less than her formidable best, she brings sharp edges and shifting emotional layers as a posh and pushy busybody who hides her inner grief by bullying the women into shape.
And this brings her into conflict with Horgan, who’s popular among the women for her more relaxed approach to the training.
Inspired by a true story of singing spouses who featured in Gareth Malone’s 2011 hit BBC documentary and produced a No 1 single, the predictable storyline is part of the film’s charm.
It allows us to enjoy the strong character work and humour as the women discover confidence and resolve.
Though the musical sequences lack the heart-racing thrills of Brassed Off it’s full of familiar pop tunes.
Plus, with the camaraderie of Calendar Girls, there’s plenty of cross-generational appeal and a cast representative of every corner of the British Isles.
Mercifully the script doesn’t shy away from the men risking their lives for their country, which gives depth to the drama and the songs, and is surprisingly affecting.
It’s probably going to be my mother’s new favourite film.
- Cert 12A
- Running time 113mins
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