Directed by: Michael Caton-Jones – Starring: Tallulah Greive, Abigail Lawrie, Rona Morison, Sally Messham, Marli Siu, Eve Austin
In cinemas now!
Originally due to be released in March 2020, but postponed due to CoVid, this coming of age drama finally hits cinemas.
However, if you think that was a long wait to get to screen, the book it is based on, The Sopranos (nothing to do with the TV show), was actually optioned back in 1998. Set in 1996, over the course of one VERY long day, it follows a group of Catholic schoolgirls from the tiny Scottish town of Fort William, as they travel to Edinburgh for a choir competition. Much to their choir mistress’ chagrin though, they are more interested in drinking, partying, and boys, than winning the contest.
Like a schoolgirl version of the Spice Girls, they all have their own distinct personalities.
Our Orla (Greive) has survived leukaemia, and despite her tender years has a very specific sexual fantasy that she wants to fulfil. Finnouala (Lawrie) is struggling with her sexuality, and hopes to explore it in the big city. Shell (Morison) is already disillusioned with life, seeing no future beyond Fort William.
Manda (Messham) is finding it difficult to accept that the dynamic is changing between her and her BFF, Finnouala, while Kyla (Siu) dreams of being a rock star, and will go to devious lengths to get what she wants. Throw in good girl Kay (Austin) who is harbouring a dark secret, and the scene is set for a raucous adventure in the big town. Taking in karaoke, con men, brothels, and gay bars, it turns out to be a transformative day for everyone.
The cast have a wonderful dynamic, and work incredibly well as an ensemble. Although there are quite a number of characters to focus on, they are all well-written, and you really do care about them.
While the story sounds straightforward enough, Caton-Jones ensures that the pace remains frenetic and engaging. Sensitive issues are dealt with tastefully, and never feel exploitative. He captures the era perfectly, and viewers really will find themselves transported back to the halcyon days of the mid-90s, when getting lost meant asking a police officer for directions, instead of consulting google maps.
This oozes the sort of teen angst that even those who have grown out of it will relate to. Everyone will recognise something of themselves in the characters. It is surprisingly sweet, while also managing to be gritty and dark, and it is remarkably affecting when, in a nice touch, Catron-Jones adds a “where are they now” sequence at the end, as if it was based on a real-life story. Because by the end of this film, you really do want to know how these young girls lives panned out.
This is a wonderfully crafted couple of hours of escapism, that will bring teenage memories flooding back. It is deserving of an accolade or two, and hopefully doesn’t get overlooked because of its release delays.