The Dressmaker - 4 Stars
The Dressmaker is one of those rare Australian dark comedies, that doesn’t dwell too much on the drama but rather counters it with an Aussie humour, that doesn’t always translate to the rest of the world.
Based on the novel by Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker tells the story of Myrtle ‘Tilly’ Dunnage, who had been sent away from her rural, Australian hometown of Dungatar when she was 10 because of false accusations of murder. Now older, and an expert dressmaker trained in Paris, she returns to care for her ailing mother and create stunning, couture dresses for the women of the town, whilst also coming to terms with what happened that day, all those years ago.
The casting is brilliant. Kate Winslet is flawless as femme fatale Tilly, however Judy Davis steals the spotlight in every scene she’s in as Tilly’s mother ‘Mad Molly.’ Winslet and Davis share a real chemistry as daughter and mother and their relationship develops nicely throughout the story. Hugo Weaving is loveable as Sergeant Farrat and Liam Hemsworth will break a lot of hearts in the cinema for his portrayal of Teddy McSwiney.
The story itself moves along nicely, however the second half does feel a little rushed, as if they realized they needed to keep the film’s running time to only 118 minutes. Personally, I would’ve preferred a little extra time, even if it were just some extra scenes of Davis stealing the show from everyone.
Visually, the film is stunning and a real testament to the Australian landscape. Costume designers Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson and French designer Sophie Theallet should also be commended for their work on the film.
The Dressmaker easily combines comedy, with romantic drama and small-town secrets to create the perfect, little, Australian film.
Review by Erin Whimshurst
Screening courtesy of Universal Entertainment
Directed by: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Starring: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving
The Dressmaker is released on October 29