1951. Tilly Dunnage (a marvellous Kate Winslet), is a talented stylist who after 20 years spent with the most important stylists in London, Milan and Paris comes back to Dungatar, a small village in Australia.
Tilly had been forced to leave the small village while still a child, following a tragic event; but now she is back and she is ready for her revenge. A vengeance to consume armed with needle and thread.
Even her own mother Molly (an extraordinary Judy Davies) doesn’t believe in her innocence. The only one is Teddy, the football players, younger than Molly who lives outside the village, with all the town rubbish, his parents and his “not/finished” older brother, the only testimony of the tragic accident.
We understand what happened that day, 20 years earlier, just nearly to the end but grainy flashbacks slowly introduce us to the tragic event till it’s totally explained in the scene at the old school when Teddy makes Tilly remember what really happened there the day of Stewart’s death.
The Dressmaker is based on Rosalie Ham‘s novel published in 2000. When producer Sue Maslin read the book she remembered the author was her former school mate and she decided to meet her again.
Even if The Dressmaker seems a Spaghetti western (here more Australian spaghetti) style where the hero is not armed with a gun but with a sewing machine, the movie switches gears and genres constantly in a strange but appealing cocktail in which the quadrangle use is deliberately immoderate.
Kate Winslet is Tilly Dunnage, no one else could be better than her in the role of the femme fatale in the high-couture dresses. Tilly decides to show herself in a sensational red dress. She is like the mermaid for Ulysses in the Odyssey. Kate said: “Margot told me, I have a fabric I bought 20 years ago in Milan, I told myself one day I’ll use it for a special occasion…this will be that occasion.” And Kate continues: “ What an honour to wear a dress like that. It’s wonderful work with a designer like Margot, one who sacrifice a part of her archive, a part of her past like she did for that dress”.
Judy Davis is irreverent as Tilly’s mum Molly. In The Dressmaker a lot of things happen to Tilly e there is also a love story with Teddy, but the real love story is the mother-daughter relationship. Tilly-Molly relationship is the real emotional crux of the movie, the thread of every other event.
Liam Hemsworth as Tilly‘s love interest Teddy shines again as he did in The Last Song. Liam said he feels Teddy really close to him. He said Teddy remembers him his grandfather, “ a hard worker, a very positive man with a great sense of humour. Teddy is different from the others Dungatar inhabitants because is ambitious and he’d like leave and see the world. Teddy embodies what Tilly has never seen before, a man who loves her exactly as she is”. He is extremely goodlooking but he has a kind and pure soul. His blue eyes becomes Tilly’s revenge eyes in a wonderful directional touch.
Gyton Grantley as Teddy’s “not finished” brother Barney is simply outstanding. Gyton siad:“I have a friend who works with disabled people. I stayed two months with him as observer. From there is born a Barney full of love, joy and full of gratitude for life”.
“Everybody knows everything about everyone but no one ever tittle tattles because then someone else’ll tell on them. But you don’t matter – it’s open slather on outcasts.”