Wild, wacky and wonderfully flawed, director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s adaptation of Rosalie Han’s novel is vastly entertaining, dramatically performed by actors Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving and Liam Hemsworth; reminiscent of Federico Fellini flicks, Irving Penn photographs, infused with meaningless and meaningful metaphors “The Dressmaker” stunningly highlights the prescient acting skills of Kate Winslet and especially Judy Davis (a neglected, under appreciated actor).
It is 1951 and “Tilly Dunnage” (Winslet) returns to a naked, parched Australian town from which she was banished over twenty years prior; “Molly” (remarkable Judy Davis) Tilly’s mildly addled mother, is unhappy with her daughter’s reappearance. Their raucous scenes are hilarious, heartfelt and inspired. Tilly has honed her gifted sewing acuity, creating couture gowns for the drab, mean-spirited, petty-minded townspeople; she changes their outward image but is incapable of erasing their inconsequentially, one dimensionality.
The depth of Tilly’s pain is palatable in her scenes with “Teddy” (hunky, handsome Liam Hemsworth); she was accused of a heinous crime that she has smothered from her memory; the townspeople, with the exception of “Sargent Farrat” (Hugo Weaving is superb as a quirky, cross-dresser sympathizing with Molly and Tilly), are a “confederacy of dunces”.
“The Dressmaker” in need of some “alterations” still astonishes with fashionable, glamorous creations, contrasting with a barren, bleak landscape; the “models” inappropriately painted, attired are misfits incapable of rising above their jejune, simplistic morality.
In many instances, “revenge is best served cold” ; “The Dressmaker” serves it piquantly, deliciously scalding .
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!