Ladies in Black Review: Bruce Beresford, the award-winning director of Driving Miss Daisy, has a new period drama full of 1950s nostalgia.

Ladies in Black is an old-fashioned and stylish period drama full of chic sophistication. Add in elegant 1959 costumes and inspirational female empowerment, and the film captures the necessary ingredients to a feel-good period drama.

Ladies in Black Period Drama Review: Julia Ormond promotional image

The always classy Julia Ormond leads the excellent cast with several other lovely actresses (and actors too). Their performances transport you to another time and place.


Indeed, the Australian 1950s setting feels like the real character of the movie. The production design, costumes, and dialogue embody the past in a truly immersive way. It’s the beauty of the film that I fell in love with, and I think you will too.

Ladies in Black Synopsis

However, the story itself is also rather charming. Ladies in Black follows a bookish teenage girl (Angourie Rice) in Sydney 1959. She wants to change her name from Leslie to Lisa. Plus, in her final high school year, Lisa dreams of University and forging a career for her future.

Nevertheless, this being 1959, Lisa needs permission to apply to University from her reluctant father. (He doesn’t believe girls need college.) Meanwhile, Lisa lands a job at a high-end department store.

Fans of The Paradise and Mr. Selfridge will adore Lisa’s coming-of-age tale.

Fans of The Paradise and Mr. Selfridge will adore Lisa’s coming-of-age tale. She meets other ambitious women who transform her into a working girl with a promising future. It doesn’t hurt that she also finds a mentor in Magda (Julia Ormond) who takes her under her wing.

While Lisa (and the setting) are the main story, other secondary plots are also exciting. Magda and her husband (Vincent Perez) are artistic refugees who face their challenges. The film quietly touches on refugee issues in Australia. Then there’s the department store salesgirl Fay (Rachael Taylor). She falls in love with a guy who may or may not be trustworthy.  

Overall Thoughts

Ladies in Black promotional image

If you’re looking for a romance, this movie may not be for you. There’s a small focus on love, but the characterization of these strong women remains the real focus of this lovely and sophisticated movie. Watching Ladies in Black is like enjoying a couple of hours of afternoon tea while chatting with your friends. 

Plus, if you love Australian period dramas, you will also like to see a familiar face (or two) from A Place to Call Home (Noni Hazlehurst plays a significant role). 

Overall, Ladies in Black is well worth your time thanks to the period authenticity, the gorgeous costumes, and enjoyable story. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but that’s okay. Sometimes, we need a nostalgic feel-good movie to escape from the realities of our everyday lives. It’s a heartwarming movie you don’t want to miss!

Where to Watch: Stream on Amazon Prime, rent digitally, or buy on Blu-ray.

Content Note: Rated PG, Ladies in Black, is the epitome of an old-fashioned period drama. There are some slight language and innuendo in the period drama.

Have you seen this new period drama? Do you agree with my Ladies in Black review? Let me know in the comments.

Photos: Sony Pictures


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