‘Ladies in Black’: A Surprising but Really Good Adaptation

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There are very few “spontaneous” cinematic film choices I make. But once in a while I rent or buy something I know next to nothing about, press play and hope it turns out to be a good decision. This is the category I’d place Ladies in Black in, a 1950s period drama based on a novel of a similar title.

Ladies in Black (2018) Film Review

Young Lisa (Angourie Rice) is excited to join the world of Goode’s as a salesgirl. Her life is just beginning, and though her parents are hardworking, good people, Lisa is ready to step outside her sheltered life. She dreams of being a poet… or maybe an actress, but no matter what she chooses, she has the book smarts to accomplish whatever she wants, even attending university. Taking her under her wing is Magda (Julia Ormond), an immigrant who sees something special in Lisa.

‘Ladies in Black’: A Surprising but Really Good Adaptation. Film review of the 2018 period drama adaptation with Julia Ormond & Angourie Rice ('Every Day'). #PeriodDrama #Movies #Australia #Romance Click To Tweet

The more experienced shop girls include Patty (Allison McGirr), a married woman who loves her country boy husband, but feels quite alone in their marriage. Then there is the romantic, Fay (Rachael Taylor). All of the guys her friends set her up with seem to have only one thing on the mind, and Fay is looking for something quite different. She wants a man who listens, and treats her like a lady. Over the course of a summer season, we meet these ladies in black, and watch them chase dreams, even the most impossible ones.

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The plot of Ladies in Black isn’t anything complicated or more importantly dramatic. This is something I love. Instead, the pace is on the slow end, and the story simplistic. In it we focus on family, and four very different women. There may be once or twice that the plot drags a little bit, but really, for me, this is the only flaw worth being talked of. Otherwise, this film is anything but dreary. There’s pretty costuming, lovely sets (reminiscent of our time at Mr. Selfridge or The Paradise) and a fantastic cast.

What I love best about it, aside from it being a period drama, is that it’s a happy story. It’s a journey for three characters, but it never feels like it’s one that weighs around our neck or burdens these characters. That’s not to say that these characters haven’t gone through some trauma or low points, but for the present of the film, it’s more of an upbeat story that revels in dreams and the idea of a bright future.

‘Ladies in Black’: A Surprising but Really Good Adaptation. Film review of the 2018 period drama adaptation with Julia Ormond. Text © Rissi JC

Content Note: with a rare (in this age of adult cinema) PG rating, Ladies in Black is relatively clean. There are some allusions to past indiscretions, and a married couple discusses intimacy, and whether or not it’s “too much.”

Photos: Stage 6 / Sony Pictures

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

8 comments

  1. This was definitely one of my favorite under-rated finds last year. I was thrilled to see Julia Ormond again and loved seeing the other ladies’ stories. I particularly enjoyed Lisa’s coming of age journey.

  2. I’m so excited you enjoyed this film as much as I did, and I LOVE this review!! I also could not concur more that one of it’s biggest selling points is the overall feeling of happiness and nostalgia it imparts so effortlessly in every scene, a result of swapping out some convoluted dramatic plot for a more simplified sneak peek into the every day lives of these women.

    Outside of that however, I would have to say my specific favourite aspects are the relationship between Lisa and her mother (reminded me so much of my own!), seeing the effect the flood of immigrants that came to Australia following WW2 had on our culture, and last but by no means least Fay & Rudi’s ADORABLE love story ?

    1. Kirsty, hi! My apologies for this reply delay. I saw your comment when you first left it, and then it got buried in the comment section. Anyway…

      I did indeed enjoy this one – SO MUCH! The costumes, that sense of nostalgia, the characters… just everything. It’s certainly something I’d love to re-watch soon. I didn’t think much on the mother-daughter relationship (not that I didn’t like it), but in most films I have a soft spot for any sweet mother-daughter (or father-daughter) relationship. :) Also DITTO on the adorable love story. It made me smile – BIG!

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