Ladies in Black (PG)

In a word: Light-hearted

Ladies in Black

Alison McGirr (Patty) and Rachael Taylor (Fay) star in Ladies in Black.

Based on the book The Women in Black by Madeleine St John, this simple yet enjoyable film follows the ups and downs of the lives of employees working at a Sydney department store - Goodes - in 1959 and is essentially not much more than that.

The story begins with a young girl named Lesley (or Lisa as she so names herself because she wants a "proper girl’s name" - she's played by Angourie Rice) who's starting work at Goodes. She is quickly introduced to Fay (Rachael Taylor) and Patty (Alison McGirr), two co-workers who befriend Lisa and show her the ropes.

They also tell her to stay away from the high fashion manager, Magda (Julia Ormond), a migrant from Slovenia and fierce and vibrant businesswoman. Despite this, she, however, soon takes Lisa under her wing and begins to open the somewhat naive girl's eyes up to the real world.

The story picks up pace when Rudi, a well educated and travelled man played by Ryan Corr, comes into the picture. A friend of Magda and her husband Stefan (Vincent Perez), he asks the couple to help him find an Australian girlfriend.

Magda informs him there are no "cultivated" Australian women left in Australia but Rudi insists she help and grudgingly heads off to search for such a woman. When she asks Lisa for help, Fay is the suggestion, a woman who has now almost given up hope on men. After they are secretly set up at a New Year's Eve Party, Rudi begins to woo Fay with his charm and kindness, the likes of which she has never found in any other man.

Meanwhile, Patty and her husband, Frank (Luke Pegler), are working through the obstacles of marriage together, while Lisa is trying to convince both her parents that she is grown up and able to follow her dream to go to university.

Facing the various circumstances in their lives, the employees at Goodes become a lot like a family; learning and helping each other. It's the wildly different personalities of the central characters which provide the interest in this Bruce Beresford-directed film and even lesser roles like the strict Miss Cartwright (Noni Hazelhurst) and the friendly Mr Ryder (Nicholas Hammond) are employed to add to the diversity.

Ormond and Perez are stand-outs in what is a gently humourous film and while the film is not particularly moving or bold and somewhat predictable, that's not necessarily a bad thing for a romantic comedy on the lighter side.