Amazon Studios/ Broad Green Pictures
Reviewed by: Tami Smith, Film Reviewer for Shockya
Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Screenplay by: P.J. Hogan, Jocelyn Moorhouse; Based on The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
Cast: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth
Release Date: September 23, 2016
In The Visit, a 1956 play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, a wealthy woman returns to her hometown after years of absence with one desire: revenge. A similar motif flows through The Dressmaker, based on a 2000 novel by Rosalie Ham, in which Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage (Kate Winslet) returns to her small hometown of Dungatar, Australia with vindictive plans after twenty-five year banishment. Tilly has grown up and became an haute-couture dressmaker after spending years in Paris and London. She wants to reconcile with her deranged mother Molly (Judy Davis), and along the way becomes smitten with Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth), a blond hunk. With the help of a sewing machine Tilly transforms Dungatar’s women to stylish-looking creatures of the world. Tilly has brought bad luck to Dungatar and people start dying. Teddy jumps into the silo, never to return; Molly drops dead of natural causes; and the town burns to ashes just as she and her sewing machine are ready to board the next Melbourne bound train.
Director Moorhouse brings a campy approach to The Dressmaker, with the help of a first-rate cast. Kate Winslet, a dramatic performer, plays Tilly as femme-fatale smoker with sinister plans designed for a short visit. Judy Davis, in a transformation to an elderly Molly, brings to life a woman who goes on and off from dementia to coherency. Liam Hemsworth, a twenty-six year old Australian-born actor, is no match for Winslet’s older character but performs the role of Teddy with innocence and sweetness. Supporting roles are done skillfully by Hugo Weaving as Sergeant Horatio, a cross dresser, and Sarah Snook as Gertrude “Trudy” Pratt, a “wallflower”.
Costumes and makeup have a special role in The Dressmaker, and Kate Winslet wears most exquisite garments infused in reds and black, all designed in the 1950’s style by Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson. Jack Charlton adds to Judy Davis’ crazed looks with dental prosthetics.
Cinematography for The Dressmaker was skillfully done by Donald McAlpine, using the Docklands Studios in Melbourne, Australia to portray the theatrical looking town of Dungatar, while complementing it with various locales in Victoria State, such as: Little River, Muckleford, Murtoa, Wimmera and Yarraville.
Unrated. 118 minutes. © Tami Smith, Film Reviewer