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57 user 21 critic

Ladies in Black (2018)

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Adapted from the bestselling novel by Madeleine St John, Ladies in Black is an alluring and tender-hearted comedy drama about the lives of a group of department store employees in 1959 Sydney.

Director:

Bruce Beresford

Writers:

Madeleine St. John (based on the novel: "The Women in Black" by), Sue Milliken (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
2,526 ( 352)
8 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Julia Ormond ... Magda
Angourie Rice ... Lisa
Rachael Taylor ... Fay
Alison McGirr ... Patty
Ryan Corr ... Rudi
Vincent Perez ... Stefan
Susie Porter ... Mrs. Miles
Shane Jacobson ... Mr. Miles
Noni Hazlehurst ... Miss Cartwright
Nicholas Hammond ... Mr. Ryder
Luke Pegler ... Frank
Celia Massingham Celia Massingham ... Myra
Geneviève Lemon Geneviève Lemon ... Mrs. Wentworth
Danny Adcock Danny Adcock ... Doctor
Deborah Kennedy Deborah Kennedy ... Myra's Mother
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Storyline

Ladies in Black is set in Sydney in the summer of 1959, against the backdrop of Australia's cultural awakening, breakdown of class structures, and liberation of women. It tells the coming-of-age story of suburban schoolgirl Lisa, who while waiting for her final high school exam results with dreams of going to the University of Sydney, takes a summer job at a large department store. Here she works side-by-side with a group of saleswomen who open her eyes to a world beyond her sheltered existence, and foster her metamorphosis.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Try on something new, and find the perfect fit. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some suggestive material, mild language, and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

Australia

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 September 2018 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Леди в чёрном See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mr. Ryder (Nicholas Hammond) the concierge of Goodes Department Store, was Friedrich Von Trapp in The Sound of Music (1965). See more »

Goofs

In 1959 Sydney residential single-phase two-wire mains electricity service flows overhead from the street service pole via two insulated wires to the two insulators at the service point located outside the house at roof level, where the Home Wiring System begins that sends electricity to the main meter box. The red brick house, where Lisa Miles (Angourie Rice) lives with her parents (Susie Porter and Shane Jacobson), incorrectly shows its mains electricity service with one aerial bundled cable that was only installed in Sydney from the 1980s, with just the one insulated outdoor Double Core Double Insulated Cable Wire connected using only one of the two electricity insulators visible at the service point. See more »

Alternate Versions

Australian PG rated PAL video version on DVD and Blu-Ray runs 109 minutes and 4 seconds. United Kingdom PAL video version has BBFC Approved Running Time of 104 minutes 35 seconds. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Entertaining, heart-warming, and a visual feast of nostalgia.
25 September 2018 | by CineMuseFilmsSee all my reviews

Capturing the swirling currents that shape national culture is a challenge for any film, but the coming-of-ageLadies in Black (2018 )meets this challenge. It is one of the best recent Australian films, compressing into one storyline what Sydney life was like in the late 1950s.

Based on Madeleine St. John's1994 novel, the film blends diverse themes like feminism, class and racial difference into a cultural mosaic. The focal point that holds the pieces together is the women's dress section in Sydney's leading department store. Wide-eyed ingénue Lesley (Angourie Rice) wins a summer job while waiting to learn if she can enter university. Her modest background is obvious: her adoring house-bound mother (Susie Porter) dutifully serves her benignly sexist father (Shane Jacobson) who loves his beer and dinner cooked on time. In case we miss the class and feminist themes, he grunts "no daughter of mine will ever go to a university".

As in all coming-of-age tales, Lesley's view on the world is profoundly altered by the people she meets. Miss Cartwright (Noni Hazlehurst) is the stern but kind supervisor who sees a better future for girls like Lesley: "there is nothing more wonderful than a girl who is clever" she swoons. Anglo-Saxon homogeneity is shattered by the presence of Serbian 'refo' Magda (Julia Ormond), whose sassy sense of European style helps sell the most expensive dresses. She introduces Lesley to a world of cultural refinement starkly different from what the teenager has known. Other sub-stories include a woman desperate to start a family but whose husband is sexually repressed, and another with a dark past who finds romance with a 'new Australian'.

Like any mosaic, the pieces are dwarfed by the overall pattern and purpose they serve. In different directorial hands the sub-stories could easily have been a melange, but instead they form a coherent portrait of Australia's maturing nationhood at the time. The sets, fashion and colour palette are wonderfully evocative of the period, while the scenes of high-street shops, domestic interiors, newspaper production and city tramways are among the most authentic-looking you will find. With an outstanding ensemble cast, the key production values are uniformly top-shelf although the performances of Angourie Rice and Julia Ormond are pivotal.

Ladies in Black triumphs in the way it represents our collective memories with emotional connection. As they are the memories of older Australians, overseas audiences or younger people may not recognise them or understand how they shaped modern Australia. Some may even raise eyebrows at the invisibility of Indigenous people, but this was the reality of the times. Despite such considerations, this film is entertaining, heart-warming, and a visual feast of nostalgia.


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