29 October 2015 | brendandevere
An Australian Classic.
'The Dressmaker' is not the type of film that instantly attracts me to the cinema. It's the wrong genre, (although this movie is difficult to place) the wrong story and it creates the wrong type of atmosphere. Leave this to the women and go and see something a little more.......you. How wrong I was and how glad I am to have jumped out of my comfort zone. It was a good excuse to take my good old mum and treat her to a midday-midweek viewing and some company with her first born or that is what I told myself when I entered the theatre only to find it filled with women and retirees excited to be out and about without the frightening hording masses that congregate on weekends.
'The Dressmaker' has been dubbed as the long awaited return of Director Jocelyn Moorhouse to the chair since 1997 and she has delivered a film that will be remembered for some outstanding performances from Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving and Kate Winslet. I agree with the statement that this film doesn't fit into any particular mold but this peculiar inconsistency is what keeps the audience fixated on the screen. Just when you think that the story is heading down a certain path it quickly turns sideways, takes a detour before arriving at its intended destination. Some viewers may find this lack of direction annoying and even film destroying but I think this could be a little over dramatic.
'The Dressmaker' holds a certain charm that never leaves it as it sways back and forth from one type of genre to the next. It can be billed as a 'black comedy' but it does allow the audience to experience an array of emotions. At times you will be laughing at the antics on screen and at other times you will be gripped by the drama unfolding.
Based on the novel of the same name by Rosalie Ham, 'The Dressmaker' centres around Myrtle 'Tilly' Dunnage (Kate Winslet) and her chaotic return to a small Australian country town in rural Victoria in 1951. Tilly's tumultuous departure years before were under controversial circumstances and the small rural community have not forgotten. She is everything the town isn't - sophisticated, stylish, experienced and worldly and she has come back for one reason......to reek havoc on those that callously betrayed her all those years ago.
Kate Winslet rarely puts in a bad showing and her turn as Tilly Dunnage is made even more exceptional with a flawless Australian accent. The audience will forget that she is English as she seamlessly slides into the fabric of her surroundings, not once slipping up when delivering her dialogue. Judy Davis is the star of the show as Tilly's mad mother, Molly Dunnage. Davis effortlessly steals every scene she is in with outstanding engagement with a character that is a little bit off centre. Judy will be recognised for this performance with an AACTA and it will be thoroughly deserved.
Hugo Weaving adds his superb presence as the cross dressing cop, Sergeant Farrat. His character grows on the audience with eccentric colourful manner, bringing the best out in Weaving that gives this wonderful film an extra element of charm. Liam Hemsworth provides the eye candy for the ladies in a solid role as Teddy McSwiney. Both Davis and Winslet are caught hot under the collar on numerous occasions. He is the stereo-typical tall, blue-eyed, rugged country boy who is the proverbial apple in his mother's eye and does exactly what Moorhouse hired him to do......stand there and look pretty. Good onya Liam.
Joining the familiar talent is a who's who of Australian television that many international audiences won't recognise but they do give the film a more authentic Aussie flavour. Could this be the breakout role for Sarah Snook? Her character Gertrude Pratt is totally transformed by Tilly Dunnage only to treat the outsider with disdain when 'theories' are whispered throughout the town.
I cannot see any reason why this film won't be enjoyed by the masses. It is Australian and its dry wit may not appeal to foreign markets which is a shame. The narrative is all over the place but don't let this put you off. Dig a little deeper and you will be rewarded with some brilliant performances.