The Dressmaker tells the story of a glamorous woman that returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.
Its always great to see an Australian film being screened and gaining an audience in international waters, especially with people in seats for a mid-week, midday screening. This, however, was probably due to the fact that it’s a period drama set in a location many audiences wouldn’t have experienced or seen much of on the screen, as much of the knowledge of the ‘50s in films stems from American (and less so British) culture. That and the fact that Kate Winslet can pull of a great Australian accent without sounding over the top or fake (despite the fact that it dropped ever so slightly once or twice).
Even though the international audience that I found myself with when I watched this film, and from what I could gather, they did enjoy it as a few laughs did occur, but what question I have is that it doesn’t seem like a very mainstream film and I don’t think it intended to be. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a total indie-type film. Like many films that come from Australia, they’re outrageously and insanely fun, with Hugo Weaving once again donning a variety of flamboyant clothes that would make you think of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Of its large cast, there’s a huge breadth of characters to follow but it’s not like that of Game of Thrones novels where the names might be forgotten over a period of time or one may blend in with another – each has their own distinct personality that you will remember, even if their names have escaped you only momentarily. Because of the large and original cast, the chaos that it creates is all apart of the charisma and quirkiness of the film that will make you fall in love and empathise with Tilly (Kate Winslet) and the townspeople that despise her. The onscreen talent that provide the faces for the townspeople are filled with local talent, some of which international audience’s might recognise (Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Judy Davis, and Sarah Snook as examples).
The pairing of Winslet and Davis works remarkably well with moments of hilarity and tenderness that really makes you believe that they’re actually family although Winslet’s onscreen relationship with Hemsworth character did seem a bit unbelievable or even awkward. Hemsworth seemed to be trying to play a lot older than he seemed and maybe I didn’t see their chemistry but as individual characters, they worked relatively well in their own respects. This also linked to Sarah Snook’s character also as both Hemsworth and Snook are in their mid to late twenties awkwardly playing a lot older compared to Winslet who looked as if she had spent the twenty or so years away to only return home after experience enough of the world.
For international audiences, the location of the film may seem unrealistic and superimposed compared to the fashion that Winslet’s character brought to the screen but rural Australia is exactly what it seems upon screen that provides a less romanticised scene when compared to Baz Lurhman’s well off characters in Australia.
The film started well but maybe was a little bit on the long side and got more and more ridiculous as the film progressed but still an enjoyable watch and a film to get behind in supports of Australian cinema.