MOVIE REVIEW – Ladies in Black
Ladies in Black is a charming film set in the Sydney in the summer of 1959. It is the era when the impact of European migrants and refugees and the rise of women’s liberation is about to change Australia forever. Lisa, a shy school girl takes a summer job at the prestigious Sydney department store, Goode’s. (think David Jones). There she meets the ‘ladies in black’, who will change her life forever. Beguiled and influenced by Magda, the vivacious manager of the high-fashion floor, and befriended by fellow sales ladies Patty and Fay, Lisa is awakened to a world of possibilities. As Lisa grows from a bookish schoolgirl to a glamorous and positive young woman, she herself becomes a catalyst for a cultural change in everyone’s lives.
Directed by Bruce Beresford, the movie captures life in Sydney brilliantly and with meticulous care. The houses are straight out of 1959, complete with plastic flowers on the hall stand, the furniture and food. Trams running along the street and policemen directing traffic in the street complete the illusion we are actually filming in the 1950’s.
Angourie Rice gives a warm performance as the young Lisa, working the store in the Christmas holidays. She is shy but obviously very intelligent and is taken under the wing of two experienced shop attendants in Fay (Rachael Taylor) and Patty (Alison McGirr). However, it is the Slovenia immigrant who befriends Lisa with her style and knowledge of fashion.
Lisa is growing up and her mother (the excellent Susie Porter) still thinks of her as a little girl. Her father (the wonderful Shane Jacobson) can’t understand why she would want to go to university. He didn’t and he turned out “alright.” The times ahead are a changing.
The film also explores the life of immigrants in Australia in 1959. They are trying to come terms with Australians and there way of life and also the language, which does provide some of the humorous moments. There are also many light-hearted comments about the rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney. “Why would anyone ever want to go to Melbourne?”
The cinema was full of ladies at the premier with just a handful of men and unfortunately this is the way the movie will be viewed. As a male I loved this movie but then I am a sucker for nostalgic movies.
The ladies may be in black but the movie is colourful, warm and delightful.
A must-see movie for 2018.