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Ladies in Black, a delightful movie
lynnecullen-7198020 September 2018
Today mum and I saw Ladies in Black.....when asked what she thought mum said "Delightful", no swearing, no sex, no violence, just a delightful movie........and she was correct.

The movie is set in the late 50s in Sydney and tells the story of Lisa who takes a summer job in Goode's department store. We meet all the 'Ladies in Black' and the story unfolds from here.

I loved seeing how Sydney looked in the late 50s and loved the fashion and style. They certainly knew how to dress back then and looked fabulous even when having dinner in a restaurant or going to visit friends for a lunch.

The young girl played by Angourie Rice was a pleasure to watch on the screen as was Rachael Taylor. I also loved Julia Ormond, Shane Jacobson, Noni Hazlehurst and Susie Porter.

Kudos to my friend Margaret Gill who has her name on the credits and did a lot of the sewing for Julia and Angourie's outfits. Well done to you I say!

If you are after a nice feel good, easy to watch movie this is the one for you. Mum rated it 8 out of 10, and Im giving it 7
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Absolutely delightful. Made my day!
annegiu20 September 2018
The casting for this movie was masterful. Shane Jacobson was fabulous as rhe 1950's Aussie dad and Ryan Corr was perfect in his role as the Hungarian "reffo". He owned that character! Julia Ormond played a Slovenian fashion guru to a tee and the sets were marvellous. From the department store in Sydney centre to the flat by the water in Mosman and the suburban, red texture brick house in Granville... spot on. A feel-good movie that has you laughing and reflecting on it for days afterwards.
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Entertaining, heart-warming, and a visual feast of nostalgia.
CineMuseFilms25 September 2018
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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Terrific nostalgic film!
felix-3820 September 2018
I saw this film at a preview with the director, Bruce Beresford, introducing the film. I didn't know quite what to expect but I was thoroughly entertained for two hours. It harks back to a time before I was born in which Australia was a very different place. The time is 1959 and refugees have come Downunder to make new lives for themselves. The changing times are reflected by a group of department store workers - the titular Ladies in Black. The script is amusing and I laughed out loud several times. Residents of Sydney and Melbourne will especially find amusement - the rivalry is not new! Special mention must go to Julia Ormond's Slovenic refugee Magda who works in Model Gowns - she has all the best lines! But everyone is so good I feel bad singling out the lovely Ms Ormond! I must say it's terrific to see a film with no swearing or violence!
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Halcyon days of Sydney retail
carringtonroad25 September 2018
'Ladies in Black' was a wonderful and nostalgic movie especially when one has lived through those days. I was a teenager working in Sydney in 1959, my mother was a Lady in Black, she worked at Mark Foy's in the lace department for many years. The movie brought back all the memories of those days, Hyde Park, Sydney Harbour, the Blue Mountains, the trams and the new double decker busses. The days when retail shops actually served people, not like today when you have stand in line at a check out. I loved the fashions and the way the social issues of the day were delicately spoken of. Did it really matter if the race horses were not actually of that day it was such a small part of the movie. I think the makers of the film really made a great movie of that time and I take my hat off to all concerned in making of this wonderful film. Well done. J.E.M.
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So refreshing!
kms-9146118 December 2018
It is great to return to times when women were treated with respect, when even maritial sex was shocking to a husband (sic), when women always had gloves. I have no idea about Australia, even more about its life in 1950-ties, so this is for me like a discovering a new land. A very interesting one. It is not a perfect movie. It is simply a very nice one to watch.
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A Visual Delight to be Enjoyed!
laurelcrouch29 September 2018
It was evident from the onset the 'Ladies in Black' nostalgic journey back to Sydney circa 1959 would not disappoint. The visual production and period content made it so appealing to watch.

A bookish schoolgirl and a fashion department manager from different backgrounds were pivotal characters for the narrative of change from the status quo. The dual storyline of a new girl entering the workforce and evolving into adulthood alongside a country evolving with new Australians from Europe . The embracement of these two characters and their positive influence on others around them complimented the awakening of new attitudes from those prevailing at the time. A passage of time handled with humour and contrast.

The film achieved its intention with a great cast. A light-hearted approach of an era some of us remember with characters that can be identified with. Above all, a visual delight to enjoy and be entertained.
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Snoozathon made 30-40 years too late
wfdonald19 October 2018
Bruce, Bruce, Bruce. What are you doing? This is barely midday TV movie standard. Very slow, extremely predictable, smaltzy, avoiding any of the gritty issues associated with post war immigration. Could have been a lot funnier, grittier, smarter than this bland Disney-esque effort. Maybe if it'd been made in the '70's or '80's you could have said something fresh, but now this was just a poor rehash of any movie covering the topic with none of the serious parts touched on. Strictly a straight to DVD (or the streaming service equivalent) movie.
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Excellent depiction of Sydney in 1959
lorraine-benn29 September 2018
Our family moved to Sydney in late 1959. We lived in Tempe, and the trams came down the Nepean Highway to the depot not far from our house. Not long afterwards, the trams were sadly replaced by buses.

My first job was in a typing pool, and I bought a black dress with a white collar - a popular work dress at that time. Some of the details in the film really brought back that time to me.

I loved the fact that the film depicted people who liked cultural pursuits such as reading and classical music. When I lived in Sydney, there were some free concerts of classical music at the Sydney Town Hall, and quite a few of my acquaintances went along.

Some of my male friends had surfboards, and went surfing regularly on the weekend. I didn't know any females with surfboards - I don't think that was very common at that time. There was a beach scene in the film, which brought back memories of that time.

I loved the fact that there was a lovely scene of the Blue Mountains. It was a popular place for Sydney people to go for a holiday, especially in winter when they could sit near an open fireplace. In summer we usually went to the beach.

The actors in the film were well-chosen and I really related to the whole film. In fact, I didn't want it to finish. It was great to see an Australian film which doesn't show us as living in the outback, and which shows some positive friendships with European immigrants. Also good to see a film which doesn't rely on the shock value of violence. The sort of people who want to see fast-moving violent films will not find this film to their taste, but I think it could be interesting to a wide audience.
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A beautiful, entertaining movie
bbewnylorac23 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Veteran director Bruce Beresford turns a simple plot about a teenager's Christmas holiday job in a department store in 1959, into a wonderful, heartfelt story about the workers' different troubles in life, and about what refugees bring to our lives. The (frankly gorgeous) set design, script and acting are all perfectly executed. You never say, 'that didn't work'. For me, the centre of the movie is Julia Ormond's character, Magda. As a Slovenian haute couture saleswoman at Goode's department store, you sense Magda has undergone many trials, but she is brave, warm and generous to the new Christmas casual worker Lisa (Angourie Rice) and is one of those people that are the life of the party and whose wisdom has come from experience. Their colleague Fay, comes across as a naive blonde, but there is more to her than you first think. If the movie has one fault, is that it's probably a little too heartwarming. Lisa seems to have a great time, both at work and socialising outside work, and her worst experience seems to be mopping up a customer's vomit. All the loose ends of the story are neatly tied up at the end. The Australians, notably Lisa's parents (played by Susie Porter and Shane Jacobson) find the refugees' food such as salami and wine a bit strange at first, but really don't object too much. One character's husband leaves her, but he comes back later, and all is well. The only person who maybe doesn't have a happy ending is the veteran supervisor Mrs Cartwright (Noni Hazelhurst), but she is a minor character. However one could argue that there's nothing wrong with a movie that makes you feel good. I cannot say that this movie did not entertain me. I really loved it, and it feels unfair to say it's a little bit of a fairytale.
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What a Treat !
pjhavord23 September 2018
'Ladies in Black' is Bruce Beresford's charming love letter to his home town of Sydney. The tone, humour and insights this movie offers into attitudes, life, and multi-cultural society in Sydney in 1959, on the brink of the swinging 60's, are perfectly judged. Its warmth and compassion towards the foibles and shifting values of its characters is reminiscent of some of the best Woody Allen satires. The outstanding acting is matched by gorgeous cinematography, choreography, sound track music, costumes, period detail, inconspicuous visual effects and a canny script. Beresford is a master film maker at the top of his form. Don't miss it.
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Excellent Coming of Age movie
bookaholic4 October 2018
This film can be enjoyed simply as a feel-good story with beautiful scenery. It also shows a time of change for Australia, as well as for the young heroine Lisa: Anglo- and Irish-Australians meeting Continental European culture; a working-class girl aspiring to go to university; women wanting fulfilling relationships with their husbands, rather than settling for "he's not a bad bloke".

A lovely adaptation of Madeleine St John's novel, The Women in Black, with a great ensemble cast. Beautiful late 1950s costumes and production design recreating 1950s Sydney.

One reviewer criticised the film because "nothing happens", but for the four central characters - Lisa, Fay, Patty, and Magda - it is a summer of significant change.
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A near perfect film
mgahrens30 September 2018
We are living in times of aggression and in your face violence and sex. This film leaves you feeling great with a smile on your face as you walk out of the theatre. Not to be missed
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Nostalgic comedy drama nails the essence of 1959 Sydney retail characters
manders_steve28 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is a total delight from go to whoa. The casting was flawless, the storytelling flowed beautifully and the locations, settings costumes and total feel of the post WW2 era just sang. The scenes and settings look the part, with 1950s era cars, trams and streetscapes. The writing and editing all work a treat - not too detailed, nothing superfluous remaining.

The casting and role portrayal is a great strength throughout. Starting with the heroine Lisa (Angourie Rice) who has just the right blend of youth, inexperience, curiosity, determination and a great desire to grow up, and Julia Ormond as Magda, who runs the exclusive gowns department and introduces Lisa to her European immigrant family and friends, to Shane Jacobson and Susie Porter as Lisa's parents; Rachel Taylor as Fay, one of the retail sales staff and Vincent Perez as Stephan - they all are just so believably right in their roles, evolving as the story unfolds.

It deals a lighthanded cast on the sexism and role assumptions of the era, providing some substance about issues to consider among the mostly lighter moments. Shane Jacobson melded his role from reactionary newspaper typesetter to reluctant supporter of his daughter with some beautifully judged scenes of support from his co-workers when they discover Lisa's HSC results as they are being prepared for newspaper publication.

Bruce Beresford and Sue Milliken adapted Madeline St John's novel 'The Ladies in Black' and, as with many Beresford films, the writing is a great strength. I was familiar with the story from the Melbourne Theatre Company's stage version in 2016 but felt the film version's greater exposure of the all the characters' lives in their homes and other locations worked better than the stage play, which concentrated more in the retail store.

The film captured the European migrant influx with all the suspicions of the new arrivals, contrasting conservative Aussies with sophisticated Europeans, with central characters including Lisa and Fay caught in the middle.

Bruce Beresford has directed some 30 feature films plus TV and opera credits, with some very popular and well regarded films including Breaker Morant (1980), Driving Miss Daisy (Oscar for best picture in 1989), and Mao's Last Dancer (2009). This is in a similar class in my opinion.
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Nostalgia isn't an excuse for no narrative
david-274-2491527 September 2018
Unfortunately I didn't enjoy this as much as many others seem to have. The design is terrific, but I felt it was allowed to excuse the need for a decent plot line or any character development. The cast is terrific, but none are allowed to get into their roles with any depth. The dialogue is incredibly inane and the lack of any conflict at all really makes the film drag. Every scene is very short, and it's all so ... nice. Could have been much better had it focused more on just one of the women's stories - probably the Noni Haselhurst character which had an interesting back story that was only touched on. Compared with something like Brooklyn this is a bit disappointing, especially given the talent behind it.
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kjgodwin-0421228 September 2018
What a delight. The cast was fabulous...everyone of them. Costuming and sets perfect. Created the atmosphere of the period perfectly. The audience was laughing and crying. Best film I've seen in ages!
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I don't understand all of the positive reviews...
Mauseum4 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I'll start with acknowledging that I do not know the source material, regardless, I thought this movie was pretty bland. The acting was ok, the cinematography was fine but the storyline was quite boring, disjointed and corny. I like when you have different storyline's being told at once but this movie feels like it's just a bunch of random scenes with monologue that just don't meld from one to the next. The storyline of the woman who's husband leaves for a while because they had (good?) sex; that is one of the stupidest storyline's I have ever had to sit and absorb. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone; except for diehard femanists just to annoy them (basically all of the women in the movie need a man to be happy).
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A really wonderful charming movie.
lennybuttz25 December 2018
No CGI, no car chases, no explosions or fight scenes, how refreshing to watch a movie with a wonderful story featuring wonderfully normal people. I really had no expectations of this movie and isn't that the case when you discover a real gem? It's nostalgic, sweet, romantic like a classic Hollywood movie that is often watched on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It's lovely and it made me feel good. The whole movie was enchanting, it pulled me in and kept me interested throughout and left me wanting more. The dialogue was wonderful, so many movies today substitute characters, story and dialogue for special effects and action. Here the special effects are a stunning recreation of Sydney in 1959. If I used 1 word to describe this movie, it would be charming.

Julia Ormond was incredible as Magda, an Eastern European immigrant in a not always friendly environment. It was exciting to watch Rachael Taylor's character blossom, the style of this era really suited her, the hair the makeup, the clothes, all I can say is WOW! She was incredibly beautiful. It was exciting to watch how her character grew and changed yet still had a spark of innocence. Angourie Rice blossomed as well, this was mostly her coming of age story, she wasn't quite an ugly duckling who is well on her way to becoming a swan, I hope.

We only get a peek of about 6 months into the lives of these fascinating people and can't help but expect everything worked out for the best. I do miss the time when women were ladies and men were gentlemen, when people were polite to each other and talked in a more respectable manner. It's refreshing to not hear people using crass vulgar in your face language. Something that really stands out for me is how different life was in that time. It was very common for people to leave school early because they needed to work and earn money to survive. People were more mature and independent, work was necessary, you couldn't be a 30 year old child living with your parents. Life was hard and you had to grow up and deal with your responsibilities. This movie brought back a lot of those memories for me and how life was so different.

It's kind of an old fashioned type of movie and I loved it. The characters were interesting and the acting was wonderful. The whole time I was watching this I didn't want it to be a movie, I wanted it to be a series so I could come back week after week and learn more about all the different characters. I strongly suggest you watch this movie, if for no other reason, it will make you smile and feel good.
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Almost perfect. Great new century film making.
ptb-827 October 2018
Here is a quietly profound polite new film set in Sydney 1959 about New Australians from Europe having the start of an effect that allowed Australia to blossom into a superb Multicultural era of the 60s and 70s. Hungarian fashionista Magda befriends studious teen Lisa at Christmas 1959 in a snazzy department store. This opens the eyes ears and world of this lovely clever teen whose backyard world reflects the cosy Anglo suburbia of the British Australian post was conservative 50s era. The ongoing revelation of this group of store and home characters is the repression of their former lives, whether under Nazi and Communist rule in Europe of the banal lawn existence of the Sydney suburbs and the small mindset and 'we won the war' superiority instilled by the cardigan politics of the 50s. Everyone has a new world to see or a lost world to them. One particularly satisfying subplot is between the two shop counter 20 year olds who show appalling narrow-mindedness towards education books and New Australians without it even registering at first. The other great subplot is the shy husband who becomes sexually overwhelmed by his gorgeous wife one night then cowers from his exposure which he believes would have disgusted her. His sexual repression of teen and childhood is hinted at enough for his sexual confidence to be beautifully harmonised and his marriage blossoms. This is an utterly gorgeous generous funny film with excellent satire and a very smart view of a welcoming country which had no idea it was rude to strange people, and Emigrants who found Australians equal measure funny and endearing. I absolutely loved it, and especially for its educated wit and good heart. Everyone must leave their repressed past and enter the 1960s future. This is just great.
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Great nostalgia and so entertaining-
tm-sheehan23 October 2018
This film deserves its great success and if you enjoy nostalgia good performances and an optimistic story go see Ladies in Black . It's not a great movie but it's very entertaining and captures the times and atmosphere of a part of Sydney we will never see again . I saw this story performed as a musical and staged by The Queensland Theatre Company with music and lyrics by Tim Finn in 2017 and personally I think it was much better on stage and wished they had filmed the musical. Saying that though I can't fault the cast , especially Julia Ormond as Magda , the warm and sophisticated Hungarian fashionista and Angourie Rice as Lisa, a young well educated hopeful woman on the brink of any possibility that would be on offer to any women in the late 1950's both actresses are delightful and a joy to watch. It was fun to spot the locations of filming and film technology today can transport us back to any era. Trivia moment - Fancy Fredrick Von Trapp showing up in Ladies in Black all these years later,see if you can spot him it was easy he just looks much older and a little wrinkled. It's an expensive film you can see where the budget has been spent in costumes, technology and sets and Bruce Beresford as director wouldn't have come cheaply. It's certainly not his greatest film and can't compete with his Driving Miss Daisy or some of his other 29 films like Breaker Morant or Tender Mercies or Mao's Last Dancer but it's entertaining and has some lovely moments We both enjoyed it not every movie has to be a masterpiece as long as it entertains and has good people in it I'm happy. It's been a week of Old Sydney nostalgia this can't compare with The Harp of the South but I reflected that while all the smart young housewives and matrons of the late 1950's were shopping at DJ's and sipping tea at Repins The Darcy family were living from hand to foot in the slums of Surry Hills a half hours walk away but worlds away from each other's reality.
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Great feel good film
pageestimating13 October 2018
Could take anyone to see it. No swearing, violence, etc.. memories of when life was simpler and better. Great film!
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Trams in Sydney
brianfhair22 September 2018
While I am looking forward to the movie the shorts I have seen shows trams in Sydney in 1959. Here are some facts. Pitt Street's last tram ran in the early hours of 29 September 1957. The Labor government removed the tracks in 1958, and that the tracks were covered with tar to prevent ever being re-used. Sydney's electric tram fleet were said to be loved by passengers and tram crews alike, but were all removed from service by 1958. On the 25 February 1961, Sydney's last electric trams operated on the La Perouse and Maroubra Beach lines. I rode on these trams and I loved them, however there were no trams in the CBD of Sydney in 1959. The Bennelong Point Tram Depot was also known as The Fort Macquarie Tram Depot and was demolished in 1958, and formal construction of the Opera House began in March, 1959.
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Shocking script, cringe-worthy dialogue and scenes
hbrodiehall8 October 2018
Shocking script, cringe-worthy dialogue and scenes. Couldn't get invested in the characters as it jumped around too much, not developing any of them enough; it was all a bit light on. The editing was also weird with historic footage thrown in without connecting it to the rest of the film well. Julia's performance and character was the best and most interesting of the film. That said, it was a shame to have wasted the money to watch it.
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itaylor-5066518 December 2018
What a pleasant surprise. This is a film that Hallmark could have made.It's their kind of movie. Warm, perhaps a bit predictable but who cares. And it's nice to see a group of good actors from "down under."
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Great watch
stephanietucky29 September 2018
I love Rachel Taylor in this film . Great feel good film A must see
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