LFF REVIEW: “A quirky and wonderful chemistry” – ‘Our Ladies’ (2019)

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Living in the moment, with a disregard for the future, the group continues on their all-day bender leaving empty bottles behind at every stop.

With matching tartan skirts and knee-high grey socks, Our Ladies walks hand in hand with the small-town girl hitting the big city. Five young women are fed up with the strict rules of their Scottish Catholic High School. As part of the school choir, they embark on a fieldtrip to Edinburgh. Upon jumping off the school bus the group are already planning what mischief they can get up to in the city.

Director Michael Caton-Jones finds a gritty tale of womanhood in this adaptation of Alan Warner’s 1998 novel ‘The Sopranos’. The film tackles an array of issues faced by these young women head-on, including unplanned pregnancy, a closeted lesbian and virginity. Individually, they navigate their own sense of self. Chell (Rona Morison) is gutsy and happy to say what she thinks to your face. Manda (Sally Messham) will stand up for her friends no matter what. Kylah (Marli Siu) a ballsy lead singer who always wears sunglasses. Olra (Tallulah Greive) is the positive force in all of their lives. Finnoula (Abigail Lawrie) tries to navigate her youth on her own terms. Finally, head-girl Kay (Eve Austin) attempts to keep everyone in-line.

It is 1996 and we meet these sprightly young women as they are getting ready for the school day. Arriving at the gates, gossiping already, their character introductions are bluntly abrupt. Not lingering on any one of the women, the pacing throughout these early moments never slows or wavers. The instantaneous nature of their character introductions comes to make sense as this film focuses on only twenty-four hours of their lives. At points slightly conventional, Our Ladies very quickly expresses a quirky and wonderful chemistry between these young women.

All five young women standing at the bottom of a tall set of stairs

They are much more interested in partying and drinking than actually preserving their vocal cords, and Edinburgh offers a vast array of exciting opportunities that were not possible in the remoteness of their hometown, Fort William. Arriving in Edinburgh, their actions quickly transpire to be the epitome of youthful rebellion. Going from one man’s house to another like an alternative pub-crawl, the women of Our Ladies face warning signs that they dodge. On-screen there is a constantly unnerving sense of potential dread. Living in the moment, with a disregard for the future, the group continue their all-day bender, leaving empty bottles behind at every stop.

Sex is the main thing on their minds. Female sexuality is very much foregrounded, while there are some moments that could have ventured just a little bit further, the dealings of young womanhood and sexuality is central. Their general rapport is strong throughout the film, conversations about sex are almost inescapable. With moments of raunchiness, there is nothing that challenges a rather stereotypical view of young women engaging in sex. Dialogue ups the ante, but there remains a lingering sense of worry for the safety of these young women as they enter strangers’ houses.

However, a bold expression of femininity remains. Collectively bound by a sense of womanhood, they crave maturity while experiencing an alcohol-fuelled afternoon. Our Ladies displays wonderful acting calibre from the cast, and is dynamic in its presentation of youthful, female disobedience.

Dir: Michael Caton-Jones.

Prod: Michael Caton-Jones, Laura Viederman, and Brian Coffey.

Cast: Tallulah Greive, Sally Messham, Marli Siu, Abigail Lawrie, Rona Morison, and Eve Austin.

Release Date: UK release TBC.