‘Pitch Perfect meets Trainspotting’: Scotland’s new coming-of-age drama revealed

Here come the girls.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 9:47 am
Here come the girls...the first images have been released for Scotland's next big feature film, which will see a group of teenage choirgirls from a strict Catholic school in the Higlands let loose in Edinburgh

They are the stars of what has been tipped to become Scotland’s next big feature film

Now the first images have emerged from an “unvarnished coming-of-age” story focusing on the exploits of a group of teenagers from a strict Catholic girls school in the Highlands during a riotous day trip to Edinburgh for a choir competition.

Marli Siu, Sally Messham, Rona Morison, Tallulah Greive and Abigail Lawrie are the largely-unknown stars of Our Ladies, a group said to be “more interested in drinking, partying and hooking up than winning any prizes” in advance publicity material.

Members of the cast on one of the close steps in Edinburgh

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Adapted by Scandal, Rob Roy and Memphis Belle director Michael Caton-Jones from Alan Warner’s best-selling 1998 book The Sopranos, it has been tipped as one of the highlights in the London Film Festival, where it will be unveiled this weekend.

Shot on location in Fort William, Edinburgh and Glasgow, it was billed as in the Hollywood trade press as “Pitch Perfect meets Trainspotting” when the production was announced last year, two decades after Caton-Jones secured the rights to turn the book into a film.

Set in the mid-1990s, the era which saw Edinburgh-set Trainspotting emerge as one of the defining British films of the decade, it is thought to feature a series of musical numbers. The Scottish singers and songwriters Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly masterminded the soundtrack of the film, which was largely financed by Sony Pictures.

Our Ladies, which also stars Eve Austin, Kate Dickie and David Hayman, is set to be revealed in London four years after the Edinburgh Festival Fringe launch of a stage adaption of Warner’s book by Billy Elliot creator Lee Hall for the National Theatre of Scotland, which went on to win an Olivier Award after transferring to London’s West End.

The girls on their way to Edinburgh by bus in the new feature film

Writing in the London Film Festival guide, programmer Manish Agarwal said the film was “a pitch-perfect evocation of the possibilities and frustrations of being young and riotously alive in mid-90s Scotland.”

He added: “Its focus is the rebellious gang sitting at the back of the bus, who are less interested in the contest than furthering their own version of a catholic education in the big city. Booze and boys feature heavily and hilariously, but this unvarnished coming-of-age saga also ponders (without preachiness) sexuality, pregnancy, class difference and the tumultuous path of true friendship.”

Among the locations used in Edinburgh were the Liquid Room music venue and nightclub, technology incubator Codebase, the West Register House archives building on Charlotte Square. Other scenes were filmed in the Grassmarket, as well as on Princes street, Rose Street, Fleshmarket Close and North Bridge.

Rosie Ellison, manager of the Film Edinburgh commission, said: “It was a pleasure to support this Scottish feature film and help bring the director’s vision of 1990s Edinburgh to the screen.”

A cafe conversation from the new coming-of-age drama Our Ladies

A spokeswoman for national film agency Screen Scotland, which funded the production to the tune of £500,000, said: “We are delighted to support this heart-warming and hilarious adaptation of Alan Warner’s seminal Scottish coming of age story, working with leading Scottish film production company Sigma Films and Scottish director Michael Caton-Jones.

“It has presented excellent opportunities for established and emerging Scottish talent both on and off screen.”

When the production was announced, Caton-Jones said: “Since optioning Alan Warner’s novel in 1998, the project’s development has been a labour of love. It was always fundamental that the spirit of these fantastic strong female characters was brought to life accurately.”