(Credit: Universal Pictures)

By MJ Gonzales │ Gogagah.com |

I don’t know when I became aware of Australian films, but definitely The Dressmaker directed by Jocelyn Moorehouse and starring Kate Winslet is notable for me. It’s little bit of everything melodrama, comedy and period with surprise of weirdness and twists. This movie adapted from the same titled book of Rosalie Ham, is now showing in the Philippines (started November 4) and will release in UK starting on November 20.

The story followed the character of Myrtle “Tilly” Dunage (Winslet ), a  well-travelled dressmaker who comeback in her Dungatar hometown for revenge to find out the crime that involved her, and unite with her mother Molly ( Judy Davis).  Though she ‘dressed to kill’ with not so hidden agenda, Kate’s Tilly is not as fancy or dark as her other titular roles. She’s lovely in her dresses, spunky in her quest to know the truth, and little childishly-reluctant in her love with Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth). I can’t remember any over- the-top scenes of Kate, but the memorable ones are when she distracted a game, gate crashed a wedding celebration, interrogate a teacher, and when Teddy helped her to remember the past.

What’s commendable in Tilly’s story is it doesn’t stop with her being as a dressmaker. Yes, one the highlights of the film is when she transformed her clients from plain country folks to extraordinaire ladies and gentlemen, but  it also clearly and smoothly show her struggles as a misjudged woman. Her relationship with Molly alone is heart-pounding as the older Dunage is eccentric and pushing her away.  Despite of these, Tilly’s determination to build their relationship while facing her foes and discover her real allies will engage you to follow her bout.

However, you will not hate Molly for being mad and cold mother to her only child. She’s probably one of the interesting hilarious mad mother characters you’ll ever see and this is not entirely because of dialogues and situations.  Moore definitely has taste in getting Davis to play this role.   As for Hugo Weaving, who played the secret cross-dresser police Sergeant Horatio Farrat, he’s the best sidekick you’ll imagine. Farrat is also an interesting character because of his secret and atonement. As for Weaving (famous in Proof) he definitely gives effective portrayal – you’ll not feel his desperation as cross-dresser in 1950s, but a man with a soft heart, guilt, and love for fancy fabric.

(Credit: Universal Pictures)
(Credit: Universal Pictures)

On the other hand, Hemsworth is a wish-come-true sweet hunk dressed in rugged outfit.   I saw him in Last Song (with ex flame Miley Cyrus) and Hunger Games series (with JLaw of course), thus it’s easy to conclude that he’s actually typecast for literally hot boy-next-door. In The Dressmaker, he still in that persona but he’s perfect with that body, caring eyes, warm hugs, and sweet kisses for the damsel in distress.

In general, all the characters are engaging from the start.  You’ll not be confused because people in Dungatar are very few. It’s even easy to knock their house down with one blow of fire or strike them with golf balls. However, the striking ones are shy geeky turned fashion-forward controlling lady Gertrude “Trudy” Pratt (Sarah Snook), old-fashioned rebellious handsome William Beaumont (James Mackay), lonely mother with OCD Marigold Pettyman (Alison Whyte), the incompetent couturier Una Pleasance (Sacha Horler), old hunchback Pharmacy owner Percival Almanac (Barry Otto), sick but caring Irma Almanac (Julia Blake),  outcast but understanding Ted’s mother  Mae McSwiney (Genevieve Lemon),  judgmental teacher Prudence Dimm or  (Hayley Magnus),  and the womanizer councilor Evan Pettyman (Shane Bourne).

Next to stunning cast and characters, the eye-catching part is the milieu that I find the weirdest factor in the film. The Dungatar town or commercial area is like a setup of houses in a sitcom, but erected outdoor.  It’s boring in the start and yet become magical when you see the people living there.  The exteriors or facades are small and simple, the interiors are complicated and big, and yes those look old establishments.

Overall, Winslet will never disappoint you in this film (as always) and you’ll discover the wonder of Australian artists in the Dressmaker.

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