Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 46 minutes, Director – Michael Caton-Jones
Going to Edinburgh for a choir competition, a group of Catholic school girls intend to spend the day drinking and hooking up with the locals.
It’s been a long road for Our Ladies to reach a proper big screen release. Since premiering at the London Film Festival in October of 2019 it’s faced a number of understandable delays. However, its anticipated freedom into cinemas perhaps matches the feeling of the central group of students let loose in the open world. Taken as part of the choir of their strict Catholic school we see the close friends arrive in 90s Edinburgh with the aim of drinking, hooking up and getting as much of a taste of adult life as possible.
Alongside the actors who clearly understand their characters writer-director Michael Caton-Jones forms a group with clearly individual personalities. While we see most of the film’s events through Orla (Tallulah Greive), trying to push her own boundaries and make the most of her life while going through cancer treatment, there’s still plenty of time to see the likes of loud and outspoken partier Manda (Sally Messham) and quiet, secret-holding Finnoula (Abigail Lawrie). The time that we spend with the group of friends is largely enjoyable. And while the film begins to feel slightly jumpy when seeing them split up into different bars and clubs in the area there’s still amusement to be found within their interactions and conversations. For much of the film we are simply seeing these characters obtain the freedom that they’ve been wanting for so long. A vast difference to the small, eventless Highlands town they live in.
It’s in the town where the film begins to dip. The impacts of the events in Edinburgh, of course, follow the students back home. With there being at least six stories to wrap up, and points to cover from when they split off and regrouped so many times, the final stages, and indeed build-up to them, do feel somewhat busy. Almost seeming to try and continue the narrative while begin to bring it to a close at the same time. There’s not exactly a clash, but it does add to the busy feel that’s present, as you begin to disengage with the film and to some extent the on-screen relationships.
The run-time feels pushed. Even if Our Ladies were to just be cut down by ten minutes things would likely pass by that bit more quickly and easily in the final stages. However, the before time runs out the bonds between the characters can still be felt. There’s a selection of fine performances from the ensemble that leads the piece and that truly creates your connection with them and the amusement that the film provides. There are plenty of laughs to be found within the characters and the places they claim to be willing to go to for the things that they want. It’s the performances that help lift up the piece and keep it going even through some of the slight dips in the return home. Bringing about the laughs and the entertainment it truly appears to be the title ladies who act as the biggest and best draw of their own film.
While the film might dip a bit when busy with the slightly extended effects of the partying there’s plenty of humour and entertainment to be found throughout within the performances that bring Our Ladies to life.