Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth star in Jocelyn Moorhouse’s film adapted from Rosalie Ham’s novel – but is it worth a watch? 

Returning to the small town that she left in disgrace years ago, Myrtle ‘Tilly’ Dunnage sets out for revenge on those who did her wrong – armed with a sewing machine.

An adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s novel, Jocelyn Moorhouse’s film isn’t quite sure what it is supposed to be: is it a drama? a comedy? a thriller? so there are a few moments when it feels quite muddled in intent.

However, what Moorhouse has done is create a film with clear story telling that keeps the audience engrossed and wondering if Myrtle does get her revenge on the people living in the village as well as finding out what happened to her all those years ago.

With Kate Winslet leading the way as Myrtle, she delivers (as ever) a strong performance of an angry and confused but vulnerable woman trying to escape her past. Throughout her charismatic presence keeps the film focused on the story in hand.

But she has excellent support in the form of Judy Davis,as her mother Molly – who in the years that her daughter has been away has shut herself away from the world and resentful of the town and the problems that its people has caused. Liam Hemsworth also provides a charming and instantly likeable performance as Teddy – determined to make Myrtle see that she isn’t cursed, but with tragic consequences along the way.

Ultimately, the film is about how people are quick to judge but never stop to think about the consequences of spreading rumours or even judging themselves on their own past mistakes – leading to a very bitter sweet ending that is perfectly fitting (and certainly deserved by the other more vicious characters who appear on screen). But it is also about the unexpected bonds we make in life as well as a tense mother and daughter relationship that is brilliantly portrayed by Winslet and Davis.

The main issue with the film is that it attempts to add too many different styles and genres, that some scenes individually can feel a bit muddled and confusing – but it is a film completely different to the one perhaps you would expect judging by the trailer, being filled with plenty of surprises.

Of course, one of the main highlights of the film are the beautiful and astonishing costumes designed by Marion Boyce and Margot Wilson (Kate Winslet’s costume designer), that may look out of place in the outback of Australia but add a touch of glamour and excitement to the town and the story.

All in all, it is a film that has plenty of different elements that will keep audiences entertained (even if the critics were rather harsh towards it) and break their hearts at the same time.

The Dressmaker is available to buy on DVD now. 

 

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