Marry in haste, repent at leisure, goes the old adage. Certainly, The War Bride
sees the chirpy Cockney Lily (Anna Friel) with plenty of time to regret her lot. After a whirlwind romance in wartime Britain she marries her handsome Canadian hunk, Charlie (Aden Young). Finding herself pregnant and alone, Charlie having been sent back to the front, she jumps at the chance of a new life abroad when she receives a one-way ticket to Canada.
Unfortunately Charlie's tales of his family ranch in Alberta are more fanciful than factual and when she gets there her natural ebullience is tested to the limit by a crumbling shack and a frostbite-inducing welcome from his widowed mother (Brenda Fricker, superbly dour) and his crippled sister (Molly Parker). They view her townie ways, her penchant for picture houses and scarlet lipstick, with deep suspicion. The only light in these dark days is derived from visits from her longstanding best friend Sophie (who also married a Canadian, but one with rather more to offer) and a burgeoning friendship with Joe, her sister-in-law's boyfriend.
The film was inspired by the experiences of screenwriter Angela Workman's mother, one of 48,000 war brides who immigrated to Canada during World War II, and it vividly demonstrates that for the unlucky ones the future was far from rosy. The result could have been mawkish but it's saved by fine performances from Friel--who is increasingly showing herself to be an actress of some versatility--and the always splendid Brenda Fricker. --Harriet Smith
In London at the height of the Blitz, Lily falls in love with, and marries, Charlie a visiting Canadian soldier who is soon shipped off to fight on the Continent. After he leaves, Lily discovers that she is carrying his child and embarks on a journey across the Atlantic to make a new home with Charlie's family. However, she soon finds that life in the Canadian wilderness is no less difficult than life in war-torn London, particularly when it comes to her cold-hearted mother-in-law.