‘Ladies in Black’: Film Review
Despite its slightly foreboding title, Ladies in Black is a sunny tale; from the summertime setting to its golden-hued recreation of Sydney circa 1959. It’s a story of opportunity, tolerance, and identity.
In the summer of 1959, a sixteen-year-old girl, Lisa, starts a new holiday job at the prestigious department store Goodes (inspired by David Jones).
Amidst the women’s liberation and the impact of the European migration on Australian culture, Lisa meets the ‘ladies in black’, who will influence her more than she could ever predict.
View this post on Instagram
This film drew me into a simpler time when something as mundane as buying a new dress was a pivotal moment in a young girl’s life.
The acting of this ensemble cast is outstanding, and I really felt a connection to the characters through the actresses’ portrayal of them.
Angourie Rice, who plays Lisa, is magnificent as the bookish holiday sales assistant, seeking to expand her horizons and create a future for herself that is outside of normal traditions for a woman in the 1950s.
I never would have predicted Julia Ormond to play Magda, the Slovenian ‘new Australian’ who is an expert in high fashion. However, Ormond plays the character with great conviction.
Magda’s relationship with Lisa is a surprising duo, but it shows that you can find a kindred spirit anywhere, no matter age or cultural boundaries.
I believe this movie really captures the European migrant influx, emphasising suspicions of the new arrivals and the contrast between conservative Aussies and more sophisticated Europeans, with central characters like Lisa and Fay caught in the middle.
LADIES IN BLACK, the heart-warming movie event of the year is in cinemas now!
However, I do wish we could have seen more of Miss Cartwright (Noni Hazlehurst), the stern but kind supervisor who wishes for a better future for the young ladies in the department store.
A scene that particularly stands out to me is when Lisa receives exceptional marks on her exams, and Miss Cartwright congratulates and encourages her to take all the opportunities thrown her way.
This scene is heartwarming and quite emotional as the viewer can see the tears of pride welling up in the older lady’s eyes for the young woman in front of her.
This highlights the delight felt by Miss Cartwright for the young generation of women rising to positions and places in society she herself may never have thought possible, overjoyed for the opportunities she has never received herself.
“ A clever girl… it’s the most wonderful thing in all creation and you must never forget that… so go away and be as clever as you can.”
Rachael Taylor’s character Fay is one of my absolute favourites, as she embodies the era seamlessly.
Her hair, makeup, and clothes are amazing, and she herself is beautiful. It’s a joy to watch her character develop throughout the movie.
Fay starts off a tad rough around the edges, but when she meets her future husband and ‘new Australian’, Rudi, something in her begins to change.
Their romance is a whirlwind of foreign films, art, music, and of course the occasional picturesque picnic in the Blue Mountains. Through it all, Rudi introduces her to a world of culture and beauty.
“Exquisite” – David Stratton, The Weekend Australian.
Don’t miss the heart-warming movie event of the year, LADIES IN BLACK is in cinemas now!
Some negative reviews have said the film is boring, and to give those people some credit, they aren’t wrong for some audiences depending on what you are looking for in a movie.
If your idea of entertainment and fun is explosions and battles then I recommend stopping immediately and watching a Marvel movie or something to that degree.
However, if you want to enjoy a film with stunning scenery and great characters, then this is the movie for you.
The only way I can think to describe this movie is absolutely charming and delightful.
‘Ladies in Black’ is the perfect movie to sit down and watch with mum on a Sunday afternoon, with a cup of tea and maybe even an Anzac biscuit or two to make it extra Aussie.