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.

Technical: B+

Acting: A

Story: B

Overall: B+

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

The Dressmaker Movie Review

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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