Based on the novel by Australian author Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker is an outback drama about revenge with dark comedic undertones.
Fashionable femme fatale and dressmaker, Myrtle ‘Tilly’ Dunnage (Kate Winslet), returns to her dusty country home of Dungatar to take care of her unstable mother (Judy Davis) and confront the demons of her past. As a child, Tilly was accused of murdering another child and sent away, but there’s more than meets the eye to the events of that fateful day.
The black hole of a town is full of morally bankrupt souls, and as the colourful Tilly transforms the loathsome people with sartorial skill, her story begins to unravel, leading to a satisfyingly deranged and over-the-top ending.
Less satisfying is Winslet’s Australian accent, which begins strong and waters down as the film progresses. Though her performance as the tough-as-nails-yet-vulnerable Tilly commands the screen without fail.
There are a multitude of threads weaving their way through the central story, and each one features a treasure trove of Australian talent––including Liam Hemsworth, Rebecca Gibney, Shane Jacobson, Sarah Snook and Hugo Weaving in a hilarious turn as a police sergeant living a lie.
The Dressmaker utilises that talent Australians have for finding a touch of humour in even the bleakest of circumstances well––and also the premise of if you’ve got it, flaunt it. (LL)