Film Review: The Dressmaker
The Dressmaker is an amusing comedy drama which offers good performance.
Dress designer Tilly Dunnage returns to her small hometown in Australia for the first time since her childhood. With her stylish wardrobe and talent for design, Tilly certainly turns heads. However, Tilly must confront a trauma from her past…
Based on Rosalie Ham’s novel, The Dressmaker tells the story of an accomplished designer returning to her small childhood home after many years away. Director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s film offers several strands, combining drama with comedy and mystery.
The central narrative in The Dressmaker focuses on Tilly’s return to her hometown and her reasons for leaving many years before. This aspect of the story affords the film an aspect of mystery. The exact details of what happened when Tilly was a girl are not revealed until a good way into the film. Yet, the mystery of the incident is not the crux of The Dressmaker; there is significant action that takes place after the reveal is made.
Other strands concentrate on Tilly’s relationship with her mother, a love interest, and a thirst for revenge. Some of these strands work better than others. The mother-daughter relationship is well-written and well-cultivated. The relationship develops at a good pace, and feels as if it reaches a satisfying conclusion. The love story is less convincing, however. Given the other incidents that occur in The Dressmaker, the love story could have been substituted for something platonic. The film begins as a mystery drama with comedy flecks, and ends up somewhere else by the finale.
Costumes and styling in The Dressmaker are eye-catching. Kate Winslet offers as competent a performance as ever, whilst Judy Davis is a scene-stealer. Hugo Weaving amuses in a supporting role, but Liam Hemsworth is given little depth to his character.
The Dressmaker can feel a little overlong, but for the most part the film entertains. The tone is certainly amiable.