Ladies in Black
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBruce Beresford
Produced by
Written by
  • Bruce Beresford
  • Sue Milliken
Based onThe Women in Black
by Madeleine St John
Music byChristopher Gordon
CinematographyPeter James
Edited byMark Warner
  • Lumila Films Pty Ltd
  • The Ruskin Company
  • Ladies in Black SPV Pty Ltd
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing International[1][2]
Stage 6 Films[2]
Release date
20 September 2018
Running time
109 minutes
Budget$11 million[3]
Box office$9,326,154[4]

Ladies in Black is a 2018 Australian comedy-drama film directed by Bruce Beresford.[5] Starring Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor, Julia Ormond, Ryan Corr and Shane Jacobson, the film is based on the 1993 novel The Women in Black by Madeleine St John, and tells the story of a group of department store employees in 1959 Sydney. The film was released on 20 September 2018.[6]


Lisa is hired as a new assistant at Goode's department store in Sydney during the 1959 Christmas season. She makes friends with Fay, who is initially wary of immigrants, Patty, who seeks more attention from her husband, and Magda, an immigrant from Slovenia who introduces her to her other European friends. Patty buys a pink nightdress that gets her the attention from her husband that she seeks, but he believes that he has upset her with his attention and disappears for the season. Magda invites Lisa and Fay to a New Year's Eve party at Magda's house and introduces Fay to Rudi, a Hungarian immigrant who is looking for a wife. Lisa is introduced to Michael, the son of Hungarian immigrants to Australia. A dress Lisa wants to buy is marked down from 150 guineas to 75 guineas during the next summer sale, then later to 50 guineas.

Patty's husband returns and they reconcile when she explains that she wants his attention, and Patty soon becomes pregnant. Lisa gets honours on her school leaving exam and applies for a scholarship at Sydney University after getting the approval of her father. Rudi buys a new apartment and proposes to Fay in it. Lisa is upset that the dress she likes is no longer on display, but Magda has only hidden it away now that it has been reduced to 35 guineas, which Lisa can now afford. She buys the dress and wears it to a party celebrating her test scores. Magda says that she has picked out a location for a store where she will sell high-end fashion. Magda asks Lisa what she will do after finishing her studies at Sydney University and Lisa says that she wants to be an actress, or a poet, or a novelist, or maybe all three.



Ladies in Black was twenty years in the making, with writer-director Bruce Beresford attached to the project. Beresford and novelist Madeleine St John, who wrote the book of which the film is an adaptation, were university friends, and Beresford had promised to one day adapt her novel into film since first reading it around its original publication.[7] In October 2017, the cast was announced, with principal production commencing that month in Sydney, Australia.[8][9]


Box office

Prior to release, Ladies in Black was projected to have "a sizable opening weekend and a long run sustained by word-of-mouth and repeat business."[10] On its opening weekend, the film earned $1,865,134 in Australia, placing second behind Johnny English Strikes Again.[1]

Critical response

Ladies in Black received generally positive reviews from critics. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 88% based on 33 reviews, with an average rating of 6.88/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Ladies in Black gleans socially relevant observations from Australian history with entertaining flair, embroidering a tale that touches on immigration and female empowerment with a fashionable pizazz [sic]."[11]

Neil Young of The Hollywood Reporter said of the film, "Ladies in Black quietly but effectively points out the seldom-stressed positives of immigration and integration, and thus deserves attention far beyond its own native shores".[12] Jake Wilson in The Sydney Morning Herald says the period details "carry the authority of first-hand experience".[13] Australian film critic David Stratton, writing for The Australian, wrote "Ladies in Black may be seen mistakenly as lightweight or slight; it isn't. It brims with subtext and nuance and at the same time succeeds in being a thoroughly enjoyable entertainment."[14]


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
Best Film Sue Milliken Nominated
Allanah Zitserman Nominated
Best Direction Bruce Beresford Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Sue Milliken Nominated
Best Actress Julia Ormond Nominated
Angourie Rice Won
Best Supporting Actress Noni Hazlehurst Nominated
Best Cinematography Peter James Nominated
Best Editing Mark Warner Nominated
Best Original Music Score Christopher Gordon Won
Best Costume Design Wendy Cork Won
Best Hair and Makeup Anna Gray Won
Beth Halsted Won
Jen Lamphee Won


  1. ^ a b "Ladies in Black". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ a b "LADIES IN BLACK". Stage 6 Films.
  3. ^ Carruthers, Fiona (21 December 2018). "Why Ladies in Black became the year's surprise hit". Australian Financial Review. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Ladies in Black". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Ladies in Black Movie | In Cinemas 20 September". Archived from the original on 3 September 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Ladies in Black (2018) - The Screen Guide - Screen Australia". Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  7. ^ Bruce Beresford: At last, making the film that obsessed me for 30 years
  8. ^ Bulbeck, Pip (3 October 2017). "Angourie Rice to Star in Australian Period Drama 'Ladies in Black'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  9. ^ "An Australian and International ensemble cast join Bruce Beresford's Ladies in Black | Media centre – Screen Australia". Screen Australia. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  10. ^ Bruce Beresford’s ‘Ladies in Black’ is dressed for success
  11. ^ "Ladies in Black (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  12. ^ "'Ladies in Black': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  13. ^ Wilson, Jake (19 September 2018). "Ladies in Black review: Counter culture explored". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  14. ^ "David Stratton on Ladies in Black". The Australian. Retrieved 19 September 2018.