Bookish Film Review: Ladies in Black

About the Film:

In the summer of 1959, Lisa, a shy schoolgirl, takes a job in Sydney’s prestigious department store Goode’s. There, her life is changed forever when she meets the “ladies in black.”

Release date: 20 September 2018 (Australia)
Director: Bruce Beresford
Based on: The Women in Black by Madeleine St John

My Thoughts:

This Australian film is an absolute delight! I actually cried tears of joy on more than one occasion while watching. The casting is excellent: Julia Ormond as Magda – the ‘glamorous Continental refugee – was just brilliant; Ryan Corr as Rudi – oh my goodness, Rudi was just so larger than life, so full of enthusiasm for Australia and he was so sweet to Fay, his ‘Australian non-refugee girlfriend’ – I loved him! And I knew that was Kate Miller-Heidke as the nightclub singer in that one scene! It was great to see Noni Hazelhurst again and Shane Jacobsen never lets you down.

Ladies in Black is funny in a way that is wholly unique to Australian films, and it had a little bit of a satirical feel to it but not so much as to take away from all of the delight and whimsy. Beneath the humour you can see parts of Australian society in the 1950s peeking through, everything from attitudes to way of life, providing a deeper aspect to each woman’s personal story. Each of the ladies in black were biding their time in the cocktail department of Goode’s, each of them just waiting for the next stage of their life to begin. I’m pretty sure there was some original footage within this film, street shots and store frontage that looked very authentic yet ever so slightly dated, as though it had been digitally remastered to fit in with the film. It’s very nostalgic in parts and I liked that about it. The department store scenes were so insightful. That New Year’s day sale stampede! And the playing of live music within the store to create ambience – live because stereo sound piping out through speakers was not yet invented! It was all so good.

I’m so glad I bought Ladies in Black on DVD because I can see that this is a film I will be watching more than once. Highly recommended.


Ladies in Black is based on the novel by Madeleine St John, The Women in Black, and has been published as a part of the Text Classics range. I have already secured a copy and intend on reading it as soon as possible. Maybe my monthly challenge check in will have a classic on it next month – at long last!

11 thoughts on “Bookish Film Review: Ladies in Black

  1. The film is wonderful and while it does the book justice, I loved the book more. There is greater depths to the characters, particularly Patty Williams. We also get a glimpse of what Miss Jacobs’ life might be. I hadn’t considered buying the DVD but it sounds like an excellent idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Week That Was… | Theresa Smith Writes

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