The Dressmaker (2015)

 

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

 

No one is happy to see Tilly (Kate Winslet) return to the small Australian town. She left "in disgrace" as a child, but is now home again, intent on setting up a dressmaking business inside her mother's shack... and to find out what happened.

 

Something went down as a child. She doesn't remember what. Only that she "killed" someone. And no one will tell her anything. But as fragments of the past return, Tilly's agenda changes. She's not in town just to unearth the past, but to make others atone for it. Her brilliant dressmaking skills soon earn raves from local women, who attract attention parading around in the dust heap in Dior knockoffs. Only one person in town has an inkling she is up to something... Teddy (Liam Helmsworth).

 

As their romance gets off to a rocky start, and Tilly finds an unexpected ally in the fabric-loving local sheriff (Hugo Weaving), she starts unraveling all the town's secrets.

 

This story is unique and quirky. It does a wonderful job of introducing an eccentric set of characters, and investing you just enough in their lives to make the ending impacting. Everyone gets their "just due," although Tilly's reasons for her actions are not always explained. The costuming design is fantastic. Gorgeous period designs and sleek cuts contrast with truly hideous creations from another seamstress in town. As the truth slowly comes to light, the audience finds itself torn in what it wants, much like Tilly. The comedy is not overdone, and often slightly off-color.

 

I intended to use this as background noise and soon found myself neglecting everything else to watch it. There is a sad but meaningful twist a half hour before the end that changes the film dramatically. I did not like the twist at first, and felt it "ruined" my experience, but the more I think about it, the more I'm tempted to revisit the story, to pick up on all the little nuances missed the first time around. That is usually the mark of a good film. It may not be to everyone's taste but it is certainly a departure from the norm.

     
Sexual Content:
A man knocks his wife out with drugs, then climbs on top of her in bed; he has many affairs and is shown undressing, preparing for a "quickie" with someone (something disturbs them, and he gets kneed between the legs); an unmarried couple kiss and are shown in bed together after (he says they should get married). The local sheriff is a stereotyped cross-dresser, shown in flamboyant outfits.
 
Language:
Scattered profanities, a few abuses of Jesus' name, two f-words.
 
Violence:
Flashbacks show children being cruel to each other (a boy head-butts a girl in the stomach, while others hold her down); a boy is shown breaking his neck; a woman cuts her husband's tendons, and he bleeds out on the floor.

 
Other:
None.


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