Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Ladies In Black: Film Review

Ladies In Black: Film Review

Cast: Angourie Rice, Julia Ormond, Rachael Taylor, Noni Hazlehurst
Director: Bruce Beresford

Pleasingly gentle and relentlessly pleasant, Bruce Beresford's period drama Ladies In Black is one of those cautionary films that feels contemporary with its message that refugees add much to the country mix.
Ladies In Black: Film Review

Set in 1950s Sydney in a downtown department store, Goodes, it's the tale of Lesley (Rice, in bookish form, who takes up a summer job with the ladies working there.

On the cusp of moving away from being a child and into womanhood, Rice's Lesley yearns to be at university and a poet or actress, but her desire to embrace a new life is met with indifference from most of her uncultured co-workers and indignation from her father who's not sure he wants his daughter at uni.

But taken under the wing of Julia Ormond's refugee haute couture dresser Magda, Lesley begins to flourish...
Ladies In Black: Film Review

Ladies In Black doesn't do conflict.

There are elements of it hinted within the kind of fluffiness that an older generation will enjoy, but its messages of female empowerment and of refugees adding much to the cultural mix come in easy to swallow doses, with nary a hint of major drama anywhere.

A side-plot involving one of the shop staff losing her husband is bizarre at best; but there are some nice touches throughout the frothiness that hint at more below. Shots of various members of staff at Christmas add a soupcon of something undisturbed and unexpanded, because Ladies In Black isn't interested in spinning anything other than a slightly rose-coloured tinted look at life in 50s Sydney.

It's not exactly a shame, and it's clear Beresford and his capable direction is not looking to rock the apple cart, but when a film is best described as gentle and pleasant, you can tell there is more that could have been done.

Ormond, Rice and Taylor give creditable performances, and the rest of the ensemble works well, but ultimately Ladies In Black isn't interested in doing much more than delivering a film that keeps an older generation amused.
Ladies In Black: Film Review

The storylines don't challenge, the threats don't mount up and the denouements can be predicted a mile off - but in terms of today's cinematic offerings, its desire to play safe and unswerving from predictable is possibly to be commended - as this is easily a film you can take your mum and your nan too, and not worry about a thing.

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