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Based on Rosalie Ham's best selling novel, The Dressmaker is the story of femme fatale Tilly Dunnage who returns to her small home town in the country to right the wrongs of the past. A stylish drama with comic undertones about love, revenge and haute couture.Written by
Over the years there have been many quirky, eccentric characters featured in Australian films such as Muriel's Wedding, The Castle and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. The stories have been uniquely Australian to be appreciated by Australian audiences but occasionally they become worldwide hits like Crocodile Dundee. It's the laid-back Aussie humour that international audiences sometimes just don't understand which prevents the majority of Australian films from crossing the cultural barrier. The Dressmaker has been successful at the Australian box office for it features a story where the underdog or misunderstood succeeds along with a story that promotes the Aussie dry wit with dialogue that appeals to the everyday Australian.
Myrtle 'Tilly' Dunnage (Kate Winslet) returns home to rural Australia after spending time abroad developing her fashion designing skills. As a child she was sent to a boarding school in Melbourne by Sergeant Farrat (Hugo Weaving) for she was accused of murdering a boy who bullied her. Her mother, Molly (Judy Davis) initially doesn't recognise her and isn't convinced she's her daughter. She eventually accepts her in her house and Tilly transforms it into a fashion factory where she makes clothes for the women of the town. In the meantime, she becomes romantically involved with Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth) whom she has known since they were children. The town still hasn't forgiven her for apparently killing the boy and believe she is cursed. Tilly will virtually stop at nothing to exact revenge on those who did her wrong.
The Dressmaker is a long way from being perfect but what it does offer is an entertaining two hours that is well-paced and beguiling. There might be a few too many flashbacks and slow motion sequences but the compelling storyline featuring a wide range of interesting characters allows the majority of the film to shine. Some of the depictions of the characters might be broad but that's just the perfect fit for quintessential Australians.
A lot of the dialogue is witty and adds much to the Aussie humour on show. Davis garners most of the laughs in a performance which demonstrates her sensational acting ability. Winslet perfects the Aussie accent with this being her second time playing an Australian after 1999's Holy Smoke! Many of the scenes she shares with her screen mother are hilarious. Weaving also has his turn in the spotlight with a wonderful performance as the cross-dressing police officer. Hemsworth plays it straight in comparison to his co-stars and reliably fulfills his role as the love interest. Support actors such as Shane Bourne, Sarah Snook, Kerry Fox and Barry Otto also succeed in projecting the individual traits of their characters.
Credit must go to the costume designs with the haute couture style befitting of the movie title. With the story being reminiscent of a Clint Eastwood western where the main character comes to town, mingles with the locals then affects their lives one way or another, the music score by David Hirschfelder has some resemblance to a western. It's an exciting score that perfectly sets up the moods of the characters and the theme of the plot. The cinematography by Donald McAlpine also enhances the look of the film, ensuring that the rural town maintains its 'western' appearance.
Although clichés do affect the characters and story, the overall quality of the film ensures that most viewers will be entertained. Jocelyn Moorhouse (the director and co-writer) should be chuffed with her film's box office success even though not all critics have praised her work. Sometimes it's the majority you have to please, not the minority. http://mlaimlai2.wix.com/magical-movie-review
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