The Dressmaker Review - Magnificent, Fashionable, Haute Fun

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The Dressmaker, from Amazon Pictures and BroadGreen Pictures, brings to the screen a powerful dramedy set in the deep outback when a femme fatale returns to clear her name and exact revenge upon those who wounded her.


Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, The Dressmaker stars Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook, Gyton Grantley, Julie Blake, Barry Otto, Shane Bourne, Alison Whyte, and Genevieve Lemon. The Dressmaker was written by Rosalie Ham and co-written for the screen by Moorhouse and P.J. Hogan.

The Dressmaker opens with the needle in a haystack shot, a pull back, long shot of golden wheat fields, miles of nothingness save the single line of railroad track that divides fields and by the time the train pulls into the whistle stop town, the audience is very much aware that calling this the outback maybe a stretch.

A single piece of luggage is set in front of the camera and anyone with even one Home Economics class would recognize the traveling case and if not the gold embossed words, SINGER, a dead giveaway for the contents.

Arriving by night, a stunning female, immaculately dressed and coiffured, and very out of place tags her fine leather luggage and hides them in the doorway of one of the five building and houses that make up this, blink-and-you'll-miss-it, rural Australian village.

Happened upon by the town Constable Sergeant Farrat, played by Hugo Weaving, a dashing man in a starched and neatly pressed uniform, even at the ungodly hour of the trains arrival. Stunned by the what appears to be Dior, the constable, obviously a man with some fashions sense, stopped our stunner with two words, "Myrtle Dunnage."

A gentle correction of "It's Tilly now" was enough of an opening that he quickly melted in the presence of what appeared to be authentic Dior, unable to control himself. his position forgotten, his eyes glazed the words breathy "Is that Dior?"

The power of impeccable dress, takes Tilly from the downtrodden past to a powerful present to which she replies "Dior inspired; my creation." The past forgotten, the future anew. Suddenly an adversary became a friend and confident.

The sun rises, even in the land down under.

Tilly makes her way to the depilated house on the hill. The stench, rot, mess, and overgrown bushes, made it nearly impossible to find Molly, her mother, played by the incomparable Judy Davis, who after tragedy struck retreated to the bottle to find the friend who wouldn't judge her.

Finally wrestling her to the bath, Tilly makes the place more manageable removing the dirt, sprucing up the place with a few tricks she learned during the lean days. Not yet having made the grand entrance, Tilly decided it was fitting to drive a few rounds into the town, you know, shake things up a bit before the big day.

We meet Teddy McSwiney, played by Liam Hemsworth, handsome, rugged, he was also an outcast, as his family provided a necessary service for the four wealthy and pretentious families, so as he explains to Tilly the only reason he and his family hasn't been run out of town is because he wins at football and cleans their toilets. And her well dressed, hourglass figure, is disrupting the team and if she could shimmy somewhere else he would appreciate it.

The two, Tilly and Teddy, had a destiny. For her to escape the torturous past and find the truth she needs him and as the film progresses we find Tilly and Molly are the victims of a horrible injustice and the perfect victims as they have no with no voice or in the case of Molly no husband to defend or protect her.

Of course, just as our Tilly is moving forward, escaping the tragedy meant to silence her and kill Molly, as the two have reconciled and worked through the cobwebs grown over their memories from years apart, hoping for the knockout evil rears its ugly head and in a split second our Tilly is felled.

I really enjoyed The Dressmaker.

Billed as a femme fatale returns to exact revenge on those who injured her and The Dressmaker is very much that story and so much more with all seduced by the allure of elegant and couture fashion. Soon it becomes the war of the seamstresses.

Kate Winslet brings her sensuous best to the screen opposite a hunky, rugged and quite handsome Liam Hemsworth. Judy Davis is remarkable. So many stand out performances the Constable Farrat, having a moment with a Ostrich feathered boa delivered from Paris. Molly and Tilly measuring a shirtless Teddy for a suit, the heat jumps off the screen, as Judy Davis, Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth are very much in the moment.

With a talented and attractive cast each bringing it, The Dressmaker pushes all the right buttons. A unique story that is more than surface frolicking. The genuineness of hidden pasts, insurmountable societal life sentences are very real as the story is played out.  The rarity that one can escape the constraints and awkwardness of one's hometown unless one returns to take it by storm is just one of the many golden nuggets of truths sewn together in this fashion friendly outback tale.

A dramedy, The Dressmaker balances the comedic element equally with the sorrowful tragedy. And it is emotional. It seems impossible that anyone could not feel for our girl.  

Jocelyn Moorhouse, after a hiatus from directing, roars back in triumph! Her personal story, one filled with tragedy which nearly ended her directing career, which she so generously shared during our interviewed during the film's press day, gave her a unique perspective as The Dressmaker deals with those deep, intense, life altering tragedies. Our interview will be forthcoming.

The Dressmaker, with its lovely, femme couture fashions, is a fun, smart, film delivering a powerful potion in the rugged outback.

The Dressmaker opens everywhere September 23, 2016. See this film!

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