Cert 12A Stars 4
Two great actresses go to war with each other in this hugely emotional and thoroughly British and uplifting feel-good comedy drama from the 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 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 as part of a Remembrance Day concert.
Best known from 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 films.
Incapable of giving less her formidable best, she brings sharp edges and shifting emotional layers as a posh and pushy busybody who hides her 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.
Inspired by a true story of singing spouses which featured in Gareth Malone’s 2011 hit BBC documentary and produced a number one single, the predictable storyline is part of the film’s charm, and 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, with the camaraderie of Calendar Girls, 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 emotional.
It’s probably going to be my mother’s new favourite film.