After the runaway success of telly’s Derry Girls, it’s easy to see the appeal of bringing another ’90s Catholic schoolgirl comedy to the screen. Our Ladies follows a gaggle of reprobate Scottish choristers as they rampage through Edinburgh, chasing boys, vomiting in corners, and sorely displeasing the sour-faced nun who’s overseeing proceedings.
Unfortunately, these girls are less compelling than their Northern Irish counterparts. Director Michael Caton-Jones’s approach is brash, vigorous, and not always interested in the complex contents of a teenage girl’s head. From the moment their coach leaves their Fort William school, this gang are tormenting male drivers with handwritten signs requesting a shag. The promise of winning Edinburgh’s choir competition is nothing compared to the city’s rich supply of middle-aged men to cadge drinks off, flirt with and run rings around.
We’re dangerously close to the limp male fantasy of endlessly up-for-it Catholic schoolgirls, but committed, riotous performances from the mostly unknown cast save the day. This story is a chorus, not a solo, but the strongest notes are supplied by dreamy wannabe frontwoman Kylah (Marli Siu), hated prefect Kay (Eve Austin), and sex-mad leukaemia patient Orla (Tallulah Greive).
Their madcap trajectory is inspired by Alan Warner’s 1998 novel ‘The Sopranos’, which has already been adapted into brilliantly feminist West End hit musical Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, which had an all-female team. Here, both the male gaze and the male characters pull the focus: the early moments of camaraderie are lost in a climactic (in all senses) final montage which includes naked cello playing, sex tied to a tree, sex in a weed factory, and literal fireworks. It’s a fittingly explosive end to a film that’s more interested in loud bangs than the fug that lingers afterwards.
In UK cinemas Aug 27.