This film about a choir set up by the partners of British servicemen in Afghanistan is both formulaic and somehow fresh. That may sound contradictory, but it also describes the aim behind most popular films, whether products of the Hollywood factory or like this one, an independent, modestly budgeted film made outside the US.

Military Wives Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan in Military Wives

Commercially-minded producers and studio executives usually try to give prospective viewers something with the comfort of familiarity yet enough spin to add novelty. Here that familiarity arises from being the latest of a string of mainly British films kickstarted by 1990s hit The Full Monty, populist feelgood films invariably about troubled community members getting together around a project. The latter can be anything from stripping to brass bands or synchronised swimming. (It’s interesting that Peter Cattaneo, the director of The Full Monty, is also at the helm here).

The one thing you know for certain before even starting viewing is that the film’s collection of sad sacks will end up triumphant at some major public event, probably in London. “Let’s form a choir” stories are well-trodden turf thanks to the...

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