The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker is a fine Australian movie, a black-comedy-fashion-western-revenge-drama murder mystery, set in the fifties.

Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, from the book by Rosalie Ham. It stars Liam Hemsworth, Kate Winslet, Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook and Judy Davis. You’ll also undoubtably recognise a fine ensemble of Australian actors throughout the film.

It opens as Tilly (Kate Winslet) arrives in an outback town on the evening stage bus, to be met by the Town Sergeant, who gives her a lift to her parental home. Her mother, Molly, is a foul-mouthed lush, who pretends not to recognise her prodigal daughter. Judy Davis has a fine time playing the mother.

Tilly’s been away since an incident in her childhood, learning haute couture in far-flung capitals. The town is not happy to see her return. But she has to find out what happened when she was driven out of town: did she kill the school bully?

The fashion stakes are high in this film, as Tilly uses her dresses and décolletage to distract first one, then the other, local footy team during a match, as a way of advertising her presence, and services, as a dressmaker.
After the town dumpling (Sarah Snook) is transformed for the town ball, Tilly’s services are much in demand.

Certainly, Hugo Weaving has lots of fun flouncing around in various hats and dresses — probably the most fun he’s had since Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!

Apparently Cate Blanchett was originally slated for the part of Tilly, but she wasn’t availablet. Kate Winslet manages a good Aussie accent, and frankly, her shape is closer to the fifties’ curves than Blanchett’s. She delivers a nicely snarky attitude for the role, too. I don’t want to reveal much more of the story, but let me highly recommend this charming film.