Our Ladies: 'You don't realise until you're given the opportunity to have your own story that you've never had that chance before'
- Katie Goh
- 18 February 2020
As the long-awaited adaptation of Alan Warner's novel makes it way to Glasgow, actors Marli Siu and Tallulah Greive delight in bringing these Highland lasses to life
Move over Derry Girls, there's a new 90s gang in town. Based on Alan Warner's bestselling book The Sopranos, which was also adapted into a successful stage musical, Our Ladies is the story of six bold and brash Catholic school girls who go on a day trip from the Highlands to Edinburgh. Unsurprisingly, mischief follows them as they set about completing their day's missions, from having sex for the first time to buying the latest record.
'I made Pinterest boards of 90s pictures and Spotify playlists,' laughs Marli Siu, who plays the rebellious Kayla, as she talks about getting immersed in the film's setting and culture. Primal Scream, The Ramones, Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin and Northern Soul all featured heavily. 'The make-up and costume teams were so brilliant and listened to us about which outfits we loved: especially Kayla's leopard-print coat! It was a great way to collaborate and create the characters.'
As well as clothing and music choices, bonding together as a group of six was essential for the film's authenticity. Luckily the cast clicked straight away. 'We all just hung out for three weeks, rehearsing and living together, which I think really shows,' says Tallulah Greive, cast in the film as the kind-hearted Orla. 'We got to kick about and try on costumes and create our characters together. It was so joyful; we still have a fairly overactive group chat!'
Our Ladies is the latest in an upsurge of film and TV that has embraced honest representations of teenage girls on screen, especially when it comes to sex. 'What's so brilliant is that the characters are sexual but they're never sexualised in the way that you see so often in popular culture,' says Greive. 'The girls are unapologetic and really in charge of who they are. It's really refreshing to see young women on screen talking about sex because when I was growing up there weren't a lot of films out there doing that.'
'I think the coolest thing is that they all love sex and I think that's true for a lot of girls but something people are tentative to show onscreen,' adds Siu. 'You've got so much stuff like The Inbetweeners about guys coming of age and going through awkward stages, but you don't see that with girls. Our Ladies is an honest portrayal of girls figuring it out and enjoying themselves while they do so. There's no trying to sweep it under the carpet or trying to make it more presentable.'
Both actors speak fondly of experiences on set that clearly translated into their performances. 'We were all so excited about doing a film with other girls and not just being a sidekick or a love interest,' explains Sui. 'These are our characters' stories and we really lack films that tell these kinds of coming-of-age stories. We're normally the ones who come in for a few days as supporting characters, but on Our Ladies it was the guys who would come in for a few days and be the ones lusted after by our characters. You don't realise until you're given the opportunity to have your own story that you've never had that chance before.'
'It was magic,' adds Greive. 'It gave me a new idea of what acting could be like, working with a group of girls around the same age and feeling close to everyone to push myself in different directions. It's making me nostalgic just thinking about it!'
Our Ladies, Glasgow Film Theatre, Fri 28 & Sat 29 Feb.
- Directed by: Michael Caton-Jones
- Cast: Eve Austin, Tallulah Grieve, Abigail Lawrie, Sally Messham, Rona Morison, Marli Siu
A group of horny Catholic schoolgirls from Fort William in the Highlands go on a choir trip to Edinburgh which becomes a major bender. The young ensemble is fantastic, and Caton-Jones has created a bittersweet love letter to the 90s; despite a few bum notes, its humour and chaos recalls The Commitments and Trainspotting.