WITH the words “From the director of The Full Monty” emblazoned on the ads, one can hardly accuse Peter Cattaneo’s comedy drama of mounting a false flag operation. In this case, the citing of his best known film says it all.

If you thought the story of redundant Sheffield steel workers becoming strippers was a heartwarming piece of cinema, you will take to Military Wives.

But if you reckoned The Full Monty was heartwarming only in the sense that its emotion-pummelling sentimentality brought on a bad case of indigestion, steer clear.

As Military Wives opens the troops at a barracks in England are about to be deployed on another mission to Afghanistan. Lisa (Sharon Horgan), as the wife of a recently promoted soldier, has been asked to take on the voluntary job of family liaison between the Army and the wives and partners left behind.

The post, a mixture of activities organiser, buddy, and shoulder to cry on, has usually been done by colonel’s wife Kate (Kristin Scott Thomas), but for family reasons of her own she has stepped back.

In theory, anyway. As soon becomes clear to Lisa, Kate, being officer class, has no intention of staying in the background.

The friction between the two women keeps the picture ticking along nicely. Pearls and body warmer-wearing Kate is posh, proper, bossy but kind. Trendy Lisa is gobby, unconventional, likes a drink, and is having trouble keeping her teenage daughter in line. Lisa thinks the newly formed choir should sing pop songs and have fun first and foremost. Kate favours the classics and reckons activities should be about keeping busy and taking the women’s minds off what is happening far away.

Scott Thomas and Horgan sparking off each other is by far the best thing in the picture, and when the inevitable no-holds barred row erupts it is quite the scene.

Other characters in this “inspired by a true story” tale are predictable, familiar, and broad brush: the young newlywed, the old hand, the shy singing sensation and so on.

The screenplay is similarly sharp in some places about class and rank in the armed forces (Kate queue jumping in the barracks shop for instance; the young soldier who joined the Army straight from care), but otherwise it is too obvious in its attempts to stir the emotions.

The manipulation bumps up several gears as the choir, the first of its kind in the UK, is asked to sing at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. The featured song was written by Robbie “Angels” Williams and Guy Chambers. No false flag there either.