Ladies in Black

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Short takes

Not suitable under 6; parental guidance to 12 (themes, lacks interest for young children)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ladies in Black
  • a review of Ladies in Black completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 September 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not suitable due to themes.
Children aged 7–12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and lack of interest for younger children.
Children aged 13 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Ladies in Black
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild coarse language
Length: 109 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In the summer of 1959 Lisa (Angourie Rice), a bookish school girl, takes a summer job in Sydney’s renowned department store Goode’s. At first she doesn’t fit in with Patty (Alison McGirr) and Fay (Rachel Taylor), the worldly women with whom she works, but her sweetness and charm soon win them over. When she is taken under the wing of Magda (Julia Ormond), a European supervisor in the designer dress department and a connoisseur of elegant fashions, her world begins to change in ways she could never have imagined.

Lisa in turn begins to influence those around her. Her open-mindedness allows her to navigate other cultures and appreciate the differences she encounters. Through Lisa’s influence and Magda’s connections, Fay is finally able to meet Rudi (Ryan Corr) the man of her dreams.

Through Lisa’s hard work and persistence her father (Shane Jacobson) finally begins to see that women have as much right to an education as men. Little by little barriers are broken down and the world begins to change for the “ladies in black” as they, in their own ways, influence the future of this country.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Marital estrangement and miscommunication; Cultural stereotyping; Gender inequality.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • There are references to World War II, refugee camps and Nazi atrocities.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Nothing further noted.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Nothing further noted.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing further noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Patty is asked by a doctor how often she and her husband “have relations.”
  • Fay describes how all the men she has recently dated only have one thing on their minds.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Patty looks at herself in a mirror wearing nothing but a towel and, off screen, lets the towel fall to the floor. She then puts on a slinky negligee. Her husband walks in and tells her that he “will help her take it off.” They are seen kissing in bed.
  • A man gropes Fay under the table while they are on a date and she wacks his hands away from her thighs.
  • Fay tells Rudi about how she once worked as a prostitute for a rich man.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Various characters smoke and drink throughout the film.

Coarse language

There are some coarse language and insults in this movie, including:

  • The term “bloody foreigners” is used on a number of occasions as are certain derogatory terms to describe immigrants such as “reffos” and “continentals.”
  • Patty’s husband is called a “dill” one wife is referred to as a “cow” and Magda is called “Bossy Boots” behind her back.
  • Patty calls her husband “gormless” and tells him to “go to hell.”

In a nutshell

Ladies in Black is a comedy drama based on the bestselling novel by Madeleine Saint John. It will appeal to mature audiences and gives an accurate, and often humorous, glimpse into female life in Sydney during the 1950’s.

The main messages from this movie are that people are really the same regardless of where they are from and that ‘a clever girl is the most wonderful thing in creation’.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • tolerance for others, and keeping an open mind
  • the importance of diversity
  • following your dreams and always striving to do your best no matter how little others may think you are capable of.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • believing and perpetuating stereotypes.
  • the importance of open communication between couples.
  • gender inequality and the freedoms that women have (or have not) gained in the last 60 years.