There are some movies like The Lego Movie that I don’t understand people disliking and then there are others like The Dressmaker that I totally get. It is a weird movie and in some ways I wonder if only people who see lots of movies like I do will dig it. When you see 15-20 movies a month they do start to feel repetitive. Then you see something that’s totally different and nuts like The Dressmaker and it is kind of exciting.
The Dressmaker is directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse and it is an Australian film starring Kate Winslet. It is about a woman named Tilly who returns to her hometown to try and remember the trauma of her youth that caused her to be an outcast. She has been away training to be a tailor and quickly makes her impact on the town with her high end dresses but her past creeps back into her life. There is also love with the hunky Teddy played by Liam Hemsworth.
The Dressmaker is part campy soap opera, part romance, part revenge drama, part uproarious comedy. It has violent moments that shocked me but also times I was really laughing hard. It’s hard to remember a movie that is more tonally dissonant but I think that is intentional. It gives the film a unpredictable feeling. At first I thought it was going to be Chocolat but with fashion (mysterious stranger comes in and teaches town how to live!). But just when I got comfortable something shocking would happen and then I would be taken in a new direction.
And Kate Winslet. Wow…
She is just fantastic in this movie and is so beautiful but also heartfelt when she needs to be. I had no problem with her being with the 15 years younger Hemsworth. I mean after all men are frequently that much older than their female counterparts, and how the romance resolves is extremely surprising. I’ve always been more of a Chris Hemsworth fan but Liam is HOT in this film.
Judy Davis is also fantastic as Tilly’s mother. It’s one of the strongest supporting actresses performances I’ve seen this year.
Hugo Weaving gets some great laughs as a cross dressing cop and I also liked Sarah Snook as a mousy town girl who is transformed by Tilly’s dresses.
And speaking of the dresses…Holy cow are they beautiful! If this film doesn’t get nominated for best costumes than that is a real travesty. It is completely stunning work by Margo Wilson and Marion Boyce. It reminded me of the costumes from My Fair Lady designed by Cecil Beaton. The costumes are so beautiful they have an entire exhibit with them on display in Australia. How often does that happen?
The Dressmaker won’t be for everyone. Like I said it is very strange and the tone goes all over the place but I kind of dug it. It continually surprised me and all the performances are so campy and fun that it worked. It looks so gorgeous and sometimes it’s nice to see something different.
It’s in general a mild R rating with just a few jarring scenes of violence and a little bit of language.
Overall Grade- B+
Here is the trailer to see if it looks like your cup of tea: