She Who Watches #9 – The Dressmaker (2015)

 

*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD* Please if haven’t seen this film go watch it I promise you’ll enjoy it! Then come back and read this review after!

Happy Mothers Day all you wonderful Mums out there! Mum decided today to have a relatively chill day by going to the Sunday market then sitting down to watch a film. I mentioned to her I saw The Dressmaker (2015)  was on one of the streaming services I have access to via our university network. All I had to say was vintage fashion, Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth and Mum was in! I had seen the trailer when it was first released and I remember thinking it looked interesting. So I had a vague set of expectations starting the film. Suffice to say it definitely was not what I had anticipated! It was bizarre yet I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Dressmaker is based on the novel of the same name by Rosalie Ham. The adaptation was written and directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse and produced by Sue Maslin (all the female filmmakers YASSS!). The Dressmaker tells the story of Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage (Kate Winslet) who after a murder accusation and years of exile from her small hometown of Dungatar, Australia, returns to take care of her frail Mother “Mad Molly” played fantastically by Judy Davis and to take revenge on the townspeople who ostracized her. What follows includes love, shenanigans, a wedding and a few funerals as we get to see Tilly return to her past and consider her future.

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Within the town we get to know a range of oddball characters including a cross-dressing  police officer (Hugo Weaving), a snobby and controlling women named Elsbeth (Caroline Goodall) and her frustrated son William (James Mackay) his fiance and former ugly duckling, Gertrude (Sarah Snook) who with Tilly’s help transforms into the Belle of the Ball.Her hilarious store owner parents (Rebecca Gibney and Shane Jacobsen). An abusive pharmacist and his sweet wife (Barry Otto and Julia Blake), A sleazy cheater of a man and his unstable, grieving wife (Shane Bourne and Alison Whyte). An evil school teacher (Kerry Fox), a mentally disabled boy named Barney (Gyton Grantley) and his caring older brother Teddy (Liam Hemsworth). It is testament to the cast that such a bizarre mix of characters worked. They were all at parts equally compelling and entertaining. The chemistry between Winslet and Davis and Winslet and Hemsworth was incredible. With Winslet being 14 years Hemsworth’s senior I was at first like “are we really going here!?” but before I knew it their palpable chemistry and fantastic delivery had drawn me in. Kate’s Australian accent was on point. Her portrayal of Tilly as a kind of sassy yet emotionally damaged femme fatale was extremely strong she was able to emotionally ground what was at times a ridiculous plot.

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Speaking of plot whilst it was all over the place, especially in the second half when we were thrown all those characters deaths and the film seemed to be desperately trying to resolve all the characters journeys, somehow the film made it work. I have learnt from watching Aussie films in the past that sometimes they are just gonna be batsh*t crazy and that is just part of the ride. The film seemed to borrow its score and locale from the Western genre, its flashbacks and more emotional scenes from the Drama genre, its characters from the Film Noir genre, some of its scenes from the Parody and Comedy genres and some from girly Rom-Coms. Its tone could change from a lightweight parody to harrowing drama in a single scene. Juxtaposition seemed to be the films goal throughout especially in the cinematography and costuming (which I will dream heavenly dreams about tonight) the vintage haute couture dresses popped phenomenally against the dry and harsh land of the Australian Outback.

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At just under two hours the film is long but never seems to drag, even if I did like the first half more than the second. Whilst watching I laughed, I cried, I gasped, this was a film I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I did and I would definitely watch it again. I am most likely going to spend the next hour procrastinating my media assignment and seeking out behind the scenes interviews with the costumer! I am tempted to seek out the book too, I would love to see what a plot this kooky would look like on paper.

Overall: 3 stars *** (any film that kills off the dreamy Liam Hemsworth automatically loses a star)

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I mean look at him, he is so beautiful ^^

Have any of you seen it, what are your thoughts?

Until next time – C x

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