Set in 1990’s Scotland, Our Ladies tells the story of a group of wayward Catholic schoolgirls who venture into Edinburgh for a choir competition. However, these girls are more interested in drinking, partying and hooking up, which creates a whirlwind of trouble for themselves and their peers. A true blast from start to finish, Our Ladies is the sex positive and utterly hilarious hidden gem that 2021 needed.
Written by Becca Johnson
Our Ladies’ biggest serve is the ladies themselves. Not only do the actresses give fantastic performances, each character also has their own unique and individual personality, temperament and internal struggles. Their naivety paired with their agency and lust for life makes them annoying and endearing all at once, and it’s hard not to root for them. They may have opposing views to one another and aim for different paths, yet their bond and chemistry is undeniable and feel-good from start to finish.
The script does a great job with exploring many important topics in great depth, without making them feel forced or too packed in. It successfully explores teenage sexuality and homophobia in an uncensored yet mindful way, focusing on the growth of the characters and what they learn on their journey together. It’s great to see a group of women talk so openly about sex on the big screen, finally in a way that resonates and feels authentic. Those who cannot relate to the material may struggle to fully enjoy the movie and what is has to offer, yet many young women will have no trouble seeing themselves in these characters and finding comfort within that.
For a movie set over just one day, it is paced beautifully and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It definitely feels like a whirlwind but in the best way possible; it’s not a plot-heavy watch, yet these girls always manage to find ways to get up to mischief and entertain viewers. Their shenanigans come so naturally and at times it’s easy to forget that it’s a piece of fiction. The 100-minute runtime is packed with humour, anger, tears, love, lust, sex, music, rebellion and most importantly, girl power.
Where the movie risks sitting uncomfortably is within its hyper-sexualisation of young Catholic girls once again. Because they are free agents who actively thrill seek, it’s easy to forget that they are indeed young, naïve and some of the situations they put themselves in are undeniably dangerous. It also would have resonated far better if Our Ladies was written and/or directed by a female; Michael Caton-Jones did the best job he could, but the material would have been handled much more successfully by a female filmmaker.
Our Ladies is an awful lot of fun. It’s tremendously well-acted, rebellious and hilarious, with one of the most relatable and genuine group of characters put to screen for a long while. Its Derry Girls vibe will please a large audience of coming-of-age fans, and the conversations about sex and sexuality are prominent and important. It’s hard not to feel like it could’ve been even more of a roaring success with a team of women working behind it, but nevertheless, Our Ladies should not slip under the radar this year.