Title: The Dressmaker
Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Starring: Kate Winslet, Judy David, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook, Caroline Goodall and Rebecca Gibney.
Revenge has never been so stylish. We are in Australia in the early 1950s. Kate Winslet steps into the shoes of Tilly Dunnage, a beautiful and talented misfit, who after many years working as a dressmaker in exclusive Parisian fashion houses, returns home to the tiny middle-of-nowhere town of Dungatar to right the wrongs of the past.
She drops a sewing machine at her feet, lights a cigarette and says, to no one in particular, “I’m back, you bastards!” Thus begins her plight to face the phantoms of an unrightful childhood, as she is dressed up to the nines, with Gilda-length satin gloves, blood red lipstick and a Swanson-style cigarette holder.
Along the way Winslet’s character will reconcile with her ailing, eccentric mother Molly, played magnificently by Judy Davis. The genuine poignancy that comes from this evolving mother-daughter relationship is crucial to the comic relief of the black comedy. Just as decisive to Tilly’s snappy comeback is her romance with the steaming hot Teddy (Liam Hemsworth), who will instill in her the courage to fight back the bigoted and despicable community of her hometown who unrightfully besieged her.
The charm of Jocelyn Moorhouse’s adaptation, of the best-selling novel by Rosalie Ham, is to move through a bittersweet exploration of childhood traumas, and at the same time amuse, when Tilly transforms the women of this Shakespearean Aussie drama. The haute couture costumes, mostly Dior-inspired, steal the scene away. Especially those worn by Winslet and designed by the Austrlian designer who is becoming a darling of the film industry: Margot Wilson. Just as remarkable are the dresses designed by Marion Boyce, for the rest of the cast, since costume design in many ways is what drives the visual narrative of ‘The Dressmaker.’
But the prime mover of the story, that leviathanically builds up as a delightful catharsis, is vengeance. In spite of political correctness Tilly creates her own justice as a contemporary Edmond Dantès.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi