The Dressmaker is elevated by committed performances and production design, but it’s bogged down by an overstuffed plot and jarring tonal shifts.
The story plays out like a manic weird cartoon but manages to be entertaining thanks to a stellar cast.
It’s hard not to root for Kate Winslet, so you watch along to find what brings a well-dressed dame to a podunk town. She’s surrounded by a great supporting cast of characters that proved to be good foils.
The talented ensemble includes under-appreciated veterans Hugo Weaving and Judy Davis, as well as talented newcomer Sarah Snook. Surprisingly, Liam Hemsworth is not a good-looking cardboard as he delivers a charming portrayal of an Aussie bloke.
Living up to its title, the movie has great costume design – the figure-hugging 50’s haute couture of Tilly provides a good contrast with the women’s homely outdated clothing. The cinematography is able to make quaint compositions of a low budget setting and the set design is detailed enough to give every interior a lived-in look.
While The Dressmaker is an amusing comedy of sorts it’s also a weird mess.
The movie is too unreal to be relatable. The town is so small that it makes you wonder how its horrible residents kept their secrets hidden. It’s nice to see an older woman score a younger man on screen for a change, but this doesn’t make sense in the story. Tilly was taken away at the age of 10 but somehow managed to win the heart of a boy who looks like he wasn’t even born yet during that time.
It can be said that the movie aims to be a theatrical farce. However, the plot can’t make up its mind. The movie zips through marital rape, domestic violence, and death while also trying to be a mystery, thriller, horror, comedy, and revenge saga with a sprinkle of a mother and daughter drama.
The Dressmaker is all over the place and you’re not quite sure what to make of it.
There’s something witty about Tilly’s inability to fully appreciate her own reinvention while also having the power to transform people. It’s also ironic how this transformation is useless as her well-made dresses can’t mask the ugly core of its owners. Sadly, this gets lost in the straight-up weirdness of the movie.
The Dressmaker is more about the journey rather than the destination and the ensemble cast makes it a tolerable redemption story for an outcast.
The Dressmaker is elevated by committed performances and production design, but it's bogged down by an overstuffed plot and jarring tonal shifts.