Adapted from Rosalie Ham’s best-selling novel, The Dressmaker makes for an oddball on-screen affair. Set in a small Australian country town in the 1950’s, the story centres on the glamorous Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet), a skilled seamstress who returns after being sent away into care years ago for killing her childhood tormentor, something she doesn’t remember doing at all. Along with her crazy, hard-drinking mother (Judy Reid), a cross-dressing police sergeant (Hugo Weaving) and her childhood friend Teddy (Liam Hemsworth), Tilly sets about making her mark on the town through her skills in dressmaking and high fashion, a mission that leads to secrets, betrayal, and ultimately, revenge!

The Dressmaker is the perfect example of never judging a book (or film) by its cover! What was sold as a quirky romantic drama instead reveals itself to be a flippant, hard-nosed black comedy, concerned more with exploring the darker aspects of the story then simply focusing on the romance it so greatly promised in the trailers and posters. What is so utterly amazing about the film is how unwilling it is to conform to typical narrative clichés, making for an unpredictable and enjoyable viewing experience.

The Dressmaker Review

The sheer eccentricity on display throughout, both in the supporting characters and the situations that arise, are a breath of fresh air. Of course, the eccentricities merely disguise the dark truths behind the characters, but it’s seeing these façades fall throughout the film which add to the fun. There’s also a genuinely interesting mystery to be solved, one which director & co-writer Jocelyn Moorhouse teases out gradually and skilfully throughout.

Of the cast, Kate Winslet and Judy Reid are utterly enthralling to watch, Reid in particular as Tilly’s foul-mouthed mother, whilst Hugo Weaving steals every scene he’s in with camp aplomb! Sarah Snook as Gertrude is also a surprisingly brilliant addition to the cast, essentially playing two characters in one as the put-upon shop worker who finds herself Tilly’s first tailoring subject.

The Dressmaker Review

The Dressmaker is a genuine surprise, powerful, hilarious and in possession of a dark beating heart at its core. Twists and turns aplenty are delivered with skill, before crashing towards an ending you really won’t see coming.