The Dressmaker is one of those movies that is likely to divide audiences just as it has already divided various critics.
Fans highlight the funny scenes and fashion; critics denigrate the plot’s absurdity and confusion.
Based on the best-selling novel by Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker tells of Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet) who returns to the tiny fictional Australian town of Dungatar in 1951.
We learn that Tilly left in disgrace as a 10 year old – and that she has spent a number of years working with renowned fashion designers in London, Milan and Paris. She has now returned to discover the events which led to her banishment, to understand why she feels cursed and to look after her mentally unstable mother (Judy Davis).
At first none of the town-folk trusts her but when she starts to transform the women, through her skills as a dressmaker using her incredible sense of style, attitudes change. As a result she eventually gets to the truth and plots her revenge.
There’s much to enjoy in The Dressmaker including the performances of Davis who is excellent as `Mad Molly’ and Hugo Weaving as a cross-dressing cop. It’s also a delight to watch Hemsworth – although not necessarily for his acting abilities! Several top Australian actors feature in supporting roles including Sarah Snook, Rebecca Gibney, Shane Jacobsen, Julia Blake, Shane Bourne and Barry Otto.
I found The Dressmaker very funny in parts, a little sad in others and occasionally totally over the top. It’s very much an Australian film – although the lead is English – in terms of the humour, its characters and its setting.
This may help to explain why some have loved it and others have been less than enthusiastic.
*Jenny Burns attended a media preview of The Dressmaker as a guest of Universal Pictures Australia
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