War Bride (2001) Poster


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fascinating, touching and powerfully authentic
martland7220 March 2003
Lily (Anna Friel) and Sophie (Julie Cox) are childhood friends who have grown up together in a London orphanage. It is now wartime London during the Blitz and the two women both have whirlwind romances with two Canadian soldiers. Lily falls in love with Joe, marries him and gets pregnant almost immediately before he is sent off to fight. Lily, along with many other women in England, becomes classified as a war bride and for safety reasons emigrates to join her husband's family in Canada. Arriving with her baby daughter in Alberta, she is met with a hostile reception by her new mother-in-law (Brenda Fricker) and sister-in-law (Molly Parker) and begins a fresh, wholly alien rural life on a remote farm. Lily is nevertheless a spirited, young woman (Anna Friel is excellent in the main role), refuses to be ground down by her new circumstances and successfully fights to become part of a very insular community. The War Bride is a fascinating, touching and powerfully authentic drama filled with good humour. The film also has excellent production values, clean and crisp visuals, and is carefully directed by Lyndon Chubbuck.
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Five out of Five stars.
Hatman124724 November 2004
Anna Friel stars in classy wartime drama The War Bride. She plays Lily, an orphan who suddenly finds herself married, with child and living with hostile in-laws in the wilds of Canada. Thematically similar to Friel's Land Girls, this is a much more accomplished affair. Her star turn is well complimented by Brenda Fricker and Molly Parker as her agitated in- laws.

In what could have been a very pedestrian story, timing is key. Director Lyndon Chubbuck handles this carefully, leaving it until wartime London has become familiar to whip us away to Canada and then leaving it until Lily is finally at home to rock the boat again. To guide us through this we are offered no easy timescale; no regular radio broadcasts counting down the end of the war, no montage of letters to mark the time Lily and Charlie (Aden Young) are apart. A quick blast of a public information film dissolves into Lily arriving in Canada and the rest of the film rests almost entirely on Friel's performance. Portraying a delicate balance of European femme fatal and ordinary London lass, she gets it right every time.

Additional to her fish out of water dilemma is Lily's growing attraction to local boy Joe (Loren Dean). Lily, who dresses in risqué clothing to provoke the old-fashioned community, is continually referred to as a 'tart' and because of Friel's balanced performance and the juxtaposition of modern and wartime values the film's ending is genuinely uncertain.

This is a war-story with no war. The only death takes place off camera, the only major disfigurement is the result of polio not violence. With no pretensions to heroics or history, The War Bride is a simple story, well told.
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A beautiful film.
Tom Murray21 February 2002
The War Bride is a beautiful and inspiring drama, beautifully photographed, with superb acting and full of personal growth. Lily, an English girl, marries Charlie, a Canadian WWII soldier from northern Alberta, who lives on a "big ranch on the prairies". That sounds good to Lily but when she is sent to Canada for the duration of the war, the reality is very different. She is stuck with a grieving mother-in-law and a crippled sister-in-law, who feed off each others' bitterness and depression. The ranch is an unproductive farm with run-down buildings. Lily is horrified but decides to make the best of it and does very well indeed. If you like this film, then see Cold Comfort Farm (1995), a similar story and an intelligent comedy.
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I love this film!
Wodetow23 November 2004
I love this film. It's a powerful story about war. But not from the usual point of view. But rather from a woman's point of view. Far from the war zone. Anna Friel, Brenda Fricker and Molly Parker combine to form a trio of women struglling,each in their own way, to come to terms with the war. They are great in this film. Both induvidualy and as a greater trio. They have to fight for their own place in a world out of their control. Struggling, bonding and clawing for every inch they can, It's inspiring to see how they build a new life. A good life constructed out of desperation . I first saw this film when in won the HeartLand film festival. I saw it again on DVD and feel in love all over again.
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A profound and moving journey!
dakard105029 January 2003
The film makers have orchestrated a profound and moving journey, a film in which ideas and themes emerge from the interaction of human beings, and not in competition with them. Anna Friel, Brenda Fricker and Molly Parker form as potent a feminine triumvirate as the movies have seen in a very long time, powerful actresses who bring as much richness to the film's silences as to its words.

Superficially, the film could be seen as yet another variation on the "liberating outsider" scenario (a popular feminist theme exploited most recently in "Chocolat"), although in "The War Bride" there is considerably more going on than Lily simply teaching her in-laws how to cut loose and live a little. The weightier theme, which develops steadily throughout the film, deals with the inescapable effects of a global war and the extent to which a conflict can still wreak emotional havoc on those furthest removed from actual combat.
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Beautifully done!
holland_gurl1238 September 2003
I liked this movie alot! I enjoy watching war movies and this one in particular was very interesting and man the cast was wonderful, couldn't be any better! I strongly recommend this movie!

***** out of *****

--and even though it is a war movie it has some extremely funny parts in it--
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Brilliant film!
Lythex8 June 2003
I have just watched this film and I think it is brilliant. It begins with Lily (Anna Friel) meeting Charlie (a Canadian soldier) at a dance. She is swept off her feet and they are soon married. Charlie promises that he will get her away from London and look after her. As Charlie goes back to Europe to fight, Lily gives birth to a girl and soon after receives a letter instructing her to go and live with her Mother and Sister in-law in Canada. Charlie has led her to believe that he lives on a big Canadian ranch. However this is a slight exaggeration! Without giving to much away she is not made to feel welcome by any of Charlie's family or friends, but wins over their friendship by just being kind and human. Just as she wins them over, Charlie returns from the war, a broken man. The film portrays the emotions of wartime and you feel for every character involved in the film. I cannot recommend it enough. Anna Friel was excellent!

If you love 1940's era films, this is a must.
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Great Film!!!
Tanron8821 March 2003
The War Bride is so heartbreakingly stirring even after multiple viewings -- I go through a pile of hankies in a different spot each time I watch it -- because it's not only the story of one woman's life or even the lives of the 48,000 other British war brides who emigrated to Canada during WWII. The War Bride taps into a collective tale of the North American experience, of the pain and heartache and adventure of the people who came here looking for better lives, and left us, their children, in their wake, to uncover their secret stories.
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Incredible movie!
MissyBaby5 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I can't think of one thing wrong with this movie? Oh...(speaking as a total teenage girl here,) NOT ENOUGH ADEN YOUNG! (ok now that that's over with....) I first became interested in this movie when I first become interested in Loren Dean, who plays Joe in this film. I searched for it everywhere on DVD, couldn't find it, and after a year or so gave up. 3 months ago, I watch Space Cowboys, also with Loren Dean, and I wonder to myself "Hmm, what ever happened with The War Bride." So I hop on Netflix.com and lo and behold, there it is. I immediately move it to the top of my queue, and within 2 days I have it.

I rush into my room, slam it into the DVD Player (the one in our living room wasn't working) and began to watch this incredible movie. First off, my teenage girl senses kicked in and I'm drooling over Aden Young in no time flat! Anna Friel, who'd I'd seen in one other film just the night before, was amazing as Lily. I probably would have acted the same way as she did. I don't know. If people talked about me the way they talked about her, I definitely would have worn the red dress! ****SPOILERS*****My favorite scene I think has to be where Charley breaks down after showing Lily his journal. A sucker for men unafraid to show their emotions I cried right along with him. As well as when Sofie comes to the house after learning of Louie's death. I cried with Lily and Sofie and said along with Lily "Why didn't you tell me?" Brenda Fricker has been one of my favorites ever since she was The Bird Lady in "Home Alone 2." I was thrilled to learn she was in this movie. ***SPOILER***I love the part where Lily fixes everyone dinner, and everyone except Joe and Betty (Fricker) are sitting back away from their plate while Joe and Betty are leaning over their plates and loving every bite! My Dad sat on the couch watching it with me a few days later and said, rather loudly, "WELL...MAMA'S ENJOYING IT!" Anna Friel, Brenda Fricker, Aden Young and Loren Dean, as well as everyone else cast in this wonderful movie was perfect for the role they were given. I loved every minute of this wonderful movie. I recommend that if you ever see it anywhere, to rent or to buy, that you rent or buy it immediately! It is one of my favorites!
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A great film!!!
taanhan20 May 2004
I loved this Movie. It was warm and emotional but deep and thoughtful as well. Great performances all around. Anna Friel is wonderful in this film. She is full of life. A powerful performance. Should have won an Oscar. Everything about this movie, the photograph the, production design, the music, the costumes, the acting, all was perfect. My grand mother was a war bride in Canada and had a similar life to Lilly's. It was hard but they had no options. Anyway this is a movie every one should see.
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Junior High version of WW2
max von meyerling27 July 2004
How really terrible can a film be, how perfunctory can a period picture be when made by and for people without the slightest idea or even interest in the era beyond some superficial idea of the retro fashion value of certain cultural artifacts. THE WAR BRIDE plays like a Junior High School play. It stands in relation to a real film like the boy's band in THE MUSIC MAN does to a symphony orchestra. It is like a movie about a movie about the war but not a movie about the war. The film is not populated by people but stock notions of stock characters. Let me put it this way: The main character gets pregnant in nine days just to set up a tearful farewell scene. If it's a war film, so goes the logic, we have to have certain scenes and everything is manipulated, even at the peril of logic and history, to get us to some expected cliché scene like finding the toilet with a band on it in the Holiday Inn.

Two working girls in the London Blitz of 1940, living and dressing far beyond the means of people at the time, go to a little neighborhood dance which apparently contains a 38 piece dance band very like Glenn Miller which is heard but never seen and which only plays the most acceptable (to today's youth that is) jump tunes, where they meet a couple of Canadian soldiers. The quick gloss, the clothes and the music, are, like the hairstyles, retro cool but really don't reflect the reality of the period. The plot is just twisted in order to present these cool artifacts.

There is a farewell scene, the de rigour scene in every war movie since BIRTH OF A NATION and most famously done in THE BIG PARADE (King Vidor). After nine days the soldiers take leave of the girls to go off to the front. What front would that be is the question. After Dunkirk there wasn't much of a front to go off to. Certainly not by truck. They weren't going to drive across the English Channel were they. Forget that the truck they drive off is in US Army markings years before the US entered the war. And we have to have a pregnancy scene, despite everything we know about human biology, the girl announces she's pregnant.

As usual everything is manipulated to have these predetermined scenes taken from other war movies.

The girls, now married are evacuated, as wives of Canadian soldiers, to Canada. I doubt very much that they would have taken a heavy cruiser across the Atlantic in as much as they might have been better used protecting convoys and sinking the Bismarck etc. I think that the idea was to build a spectacular set of one slight angle of the deck of a ship with a huge gun turret in the background as a suitably dramatic setting. The train journey across Canada is one bad trip. The one room station located in the middle of the forest stands in for both Montreal, Canada's largest city, as well as rural Alberta. All right, it was a low budget picture but a little of what was wasted on the gun turret scene could have at least paid for a glass shot or still insert showing Montreal.

When the war bride arrives she is met by her comically dour mother-in law and her crippled daughter. Life will be hard on the farm. I've seen that picture too so if you're still on board at this point please be my guest as you have another hour and a half compilation of stock scenes and stilted reactions. Unbelievable, but even stranger is the reaction of young people who believe this phoney stuff to somehow be authentic.
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Predictable albeit sweet but would have benefited from more reality
JonathanWalford23 August 2008
This film suffers a bit from being a cheap TV movie - historically its a tad rough around the edges and the storyline is predictable and at times even a little dull. The crux of the story is about the strained relationship between a war bride who arrives at a broken down farm in Alberta, the home of her husband's family, in 1943. Her whirlwind courtship, marriage and pregnancy is not met with approval from the Canadian family and although they loosen up towards her, it takes two years to do so. During this time there are many scenes where you just want something more to happen other than whispered snide comments and hate-filled glares. I am not quite sure why this particular story was chosen as the characters don't really engage each other. Brenda Fricker was almost wasted in her role as the husband's mother but even though she was given few lines she still managed to steal most of the scenes! From real accounts I have read, there were jealous and snippy Canadians who felt some of the English war brides were predatory fortune hunters and there were equally as many English war brides who saw Canadians as prudish and uncultured hicks. However, there were far more stories of love and support, and appreciation and adaptability. I know this film needed drama and used a storyline that would provide this but the film would have benefited from some real events relayed from war bride memoirs. I suspect the story was written with little research from period accounts and that's too bad because there is a wealth of material out there that would have made for some great scenes.

Regardless, I still think the film needed to be made and I am glad somebody did it. It was overall enjoyable to watch.
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A Good Idea That Falls Short
hjmsia492 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This little film has an interesting premise that fails to meet its potential. The story of a British war bride's displacement to Canada should have made an interesting film but it too often sags in spots. I felt the excellent cast was wasted. When Lily (Anna Friel) arrives at that desolate farm in Alberta, my first thought was- wait till she experiences an Alberta winter in that shack. Unfortunately, though she is there for a long time waiting for her husband, it seems to be endless summer, never a hint of snow. The English and Canadian stereotypes are too pronounced and almost comical at times. Finally, the ending was too contrived and I found hard to believe that cosmopolitan Lily would ever be happy in that environment.
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Overcomes With Charm
samkan7 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The few negative commenters thus far are correct insofar that this is light drama and somewhat contrived. On the contrary, the mere courage to make a film about a collateral aspect of domestic Canadian WWII life should be applauded. That said, the photographic contrast between London during the Bombing and rural Alberta compliments the plight of the Canadian War Brides. What War Brides nails is the innocence, excitement and compulsiveness Of 19 years olds in extraordinary circumstances and unfamiliar venues; i.e., a farm boy in London and a Londoner on the prairie. Anna Friel and Brenda Fricker do wonderful jobs in their roles, as does Molly Parker. So refreshing to see a drama with no legitimate "bad guy", just people subject to forces outside their control. Worth a watch!
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Appallingly bad
rps-28 December 2002
Why why why do we keep trying to make movies in this country? We produce good wine...fine authors...great opera singers and ballet dancers. We've even produced one or two respectable politicians. BUT WE ARE INCOMPETENT AT MAKING MOVIES. Where do I start... War brides were not shipped to Canada until after the war... They certainly didn't travel on warships... There never was any railway called Canadian Central... Even during the war, Canada was not using 1860 vintage wood burning locomotives. But bad as all this may be, it is nothing compared to the absurd characterizations. Whoever wrote this dreadful script had absolutely no comprehension of prairie farm life or of the psychological impact of war service. It was stupidly shallow sophomoric twaddle. But by god, they did give it a happy ending. I love my country. I hate my country's movies.
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Oh My Poor Humours!!!
esanaan26 February 2003
This movie is so bad it's required watching. I've seen "movies of the week" with more subtle plot and character motivation. Watching the movie you get the feeling it was churned out by some Eastern Bloc propaganda machine short on bromide, because whatever the intention your left with the feeling that your innards are being salted. Whoever wrote this mustn't of spent much time around the WWII generation or for that matter multi-celled organisms.Molly Parker who use about 1/100th of her acting talent will hopefully never be reminded of this opus horribilus when she looks back on her body of work. As for miss Anna Friel, well I must say being delightful to look at, she tries admirably to pull the immature screenplay off, but alas no mortal could win such a task. Truthfully at times it appears as if there are two movies here, as I think is the case in many co-productions. Anna Friel is able to invoke the maudlin pathos one would be more apt to find on 'Brookside', and does so well, yet the Canadian cast appears to mope about at her feet.Apparently this was in wide release in the UK which is as amazing to me as that octopus that can open jars of Squid in the Berlin Zoo. It really must be experienced!
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Acceptable fluffy historical drama
FrangipaniMozzie22 November 2011
I watched this just to pass a spare evening when I was ill. It's not tremendously well-made, for I agree with other reviews in that it uses formulaic plots and is often a poor representation of World War 2 and 1940's life.

I also found the characters and plot lines were poorly conceived and hard to relate to, not to mention the hideous amount of soapy melodrama of nasty characters bashing another; hardly profound story-telling.

However, I'm not completely bashing this as nonsense that isn't worth anyone's time, for it is an entertaining and interesting drama story to watch, just don't expect a masterpiece. It's a typical BBC costume drama for Sunday evenings.
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