Outback Red is Back in Fashion

The Dressmaker

dressmaker

Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Cast: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Caroline Goodall, Sarah Snook, Kerry Fox, James Mackay

Australian director Jocelyn Moorhouse (How to Make an American Quilt) returns to form in this hilarious and bitter-sweet black comedy The Dressmaker combining the talents of Oscar winner Kate Winslet (The Reader) and Oscar nominee Judy Davis (A Passage to India, Husbands and Wives) in a story about Tilly Dunnage who returns to the Australian outback to avenge the townsfolk who sent her packing when she was 10 years old, blaming her for the death of a young boy.

The Dressmaker is The Scarlett Letter with style, as Winslet delivers a fabulous performance as the tenacious dressmaker Tilly Dunnage who returns to Dungatar, Australia in the earlier 1950’s after a sojourn in Europe’s fashion capitals to look after her mother, Mad Molly Dunnage, wonderfully played by Judy Davis. The onscreen chemistry between Winslett and Davis makes this tale of sweet revenge crackle with delight and is a testament to a brilliant stroke of casting.

The male leads are played by Australian actors Liam Hemsworth (Paranoia, Empire State, The Hunger Games trilogy) and Hugo Weaving recapturing some of that cross dressing glamour which he become so famous for in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as the closeted cop Horatio Farrat.

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Based upon the novel by Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker is a brilliant and biting black comedy about the drawbacks of small town life: ignorance and the dangers of gossip as a weapon of exclusion.

Tilly Dunnage, always looking absolutely gorgeous despite being in the dusty Australian outback, slowly wins the hearts of the female population of the small town as she becomes a prized dressmaker transforming the plain grocer’s daughter Gertrude Pratt into a gorgeous visionary now known as Trudy.

As Tilly manages to re-establish a bond with her mad mother Molly, she also befriends the local hunk Teddy McSwiney played by Hemsworth and in one hilarious scene she even has to take his measurements for a new suit while he stands shirtless in front of Tilly and her mad mother.

With artistic references to Sunset Boulevard and South Pacific, The Dressmaker is an absolute gem of a film, a wicked black comedy which truly shows Winslet in her most glamorous role to date, taking on the town and correcting the wrongs of the past. Judy Davis is brilliant as the mad mother Molly who confronts her own demons in a town which has long since cursed her.

The rest of the cast include Sarah Snook as the fickle Gertrude Pratt, Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave) as the evil Beulah Harridiene, Caroline Goodall as the pushy mother Elsbeth and the dashing James Mackay as the eligible William Beaumont.

The Dressmaker is highly recommended viewing, a superb and fashionable way to spend two hours and indulge in all the antics of a small town drama filled with mystery, panache and revenge.

 

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