Kate Winslet in a scene from the movie The Dressmaker.
Kate Winslet in a scene from the movie The Dressmaker. Supplied By Universal Pictures

Review: The Dressmaker is fashionably Aussie

The Dressmaker

Stars: Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Judy Davis, Sarah Snook.

Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Reviewer: Seanna Cronin

Verdict: 4.5/5 stars


KATE Winslet isn't just a vision in The Dressmaker; she's a tour de force.

The Oscar winner stars as Myrtle Dunnage, a glamorous woman with a dark past who returns to the small outback town where she spent her early childhood to seek redemption and revenge.

The film is based on Rosalie Ham's bestselling novel, a bittersweet comedy-drama which I'm now keen to read after seeing the film.

Tilly was sent away to boarding school after she was accused of murdering a classmate.

Her arrival in Dungatar, the location of which is never mentioned but you soon learn is deep in AFL territory, is met with horror from many of the residents, except for flamboyant local copper, Sergeant Farrat (Hugo Weaving).

Her journey of redemption and self-discovery is an entertaining one and it's easy to forgive her romance, which feels a bit hasty, with strapping lad Teddy (Liam Hemsworth).

But before Tilly, as she prefers to be called, can even take on the judgmental residents who feed the town's rumour mill, she must first reconcile with her ailing mother (Judy Davis).

But she's called Mad Molly for a very good reason. Winslet leads a very talented Aussie cast, which also includes Sarah Snook, Rebecca Gibney, Shane Jacobson, Gyton Grantley and Sacha Horler.

Her Aussie accent is spot-on, a commendable feat for any overseas import.

You could argue Dungatar itself is the film's villain, as the combined eccentricities and grudges of its residents come back to bite them.

As Moorhouse says in the film's production notes: "It's the kind of home town you never want to go back to, full of nasty people and really frightening secrets. Everybody knows something about everybody else and everyone is held in check."

Of course some of the credit must also go to the combined efforts of costume designers Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson. Their dazzling dresses are sure to make any cinema-goer yearn for the classic glamour of the 1950s.

The Dressmaker is bright, quirky and has a huge heart.