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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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1,540 ( 348)
8 wins & 20 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 ... Myra
Geneviève Lemon Geneviève Lemon ... Mrs. Wentworth
Danny Adcock Danny Adcock ... Doctor
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:

Based on 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 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 »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,356,495
See more on IMDbPro »

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

LADIES IN BLACK was filmed on Sydney Harbour initially showing aerial shots of the boat ROYALE owned by ROSMAN CRUISES, and then on the boat are Magda (Julia Ormond) and Lisa Miles (Angourie Rice) who are seated at the stern of the boat ROYALE on the top deck, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background, as the boat heads eastwards towards Mosman. See more »

Goofs

There is a scene where people are playing cricket. It appears that the batsmen are wearing helmets. Batsmen did not start wearing helmets until the 1970's. See more »

Quotes

Magda: I should have gone to mass this morning. Oh! Too late now.
Stefan: Well, there is a midday mass.
Magda: Oh, I need some rest.
Stefan: I'm sure God will understand.
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 »

Connections

References On the Beach (1959) 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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