In terms of some extra weirdness, “The Dressmaker” is right up there with the best of them, especially in the dark comedy genre. I mean, eventually most of the townsfolk women are walking around dressed in “designer” dresses, which wouldn’t seem that odd except it’s the 1950’s in a dirt-road, little town in Australia. Then there is the town Sergeant (Hugo Weaving), traipsing around in all of the flashiness of a matador at a bull fight. Clothes, however, aren’t really what brings Tilly (Kate Winslet in all of her sassiness) back to her hometown. Nope, she has to find out the truth about her past, a past that tarnished her reputation and left her as the town pariah.
As it is Tilly returns to town with a flash, at the rugby game, dressed to the nines which thoroughly distracts the rugby dudes. Enter Teddy (Liam Hemsworth), one of the team members, who tells Tilly she is distracting everyone causing Tilly to change outfits to something even more distracting.
The story plays out with Tilly as a fancy designer, bringing her flair and dresses to the simple town’s women in exchange mostly for information of what exactly happened all of those years ago. Soon, as woman after woman is jealous of the clothing of their neighbors, most of the women’s population is marching around town in their dresses, complete with the competing dressmaker, Una Pleasance (Sacha Horler) trying to outshine Tilly.
Along the way Tilly begins to fall for Teddy, while Molly, Tilly’s mom, played by the wonderful Judy Davis, is a hoot showing complete disdain for most of the town, and total disregard for social norms. Cases in point for the entertainment factor of Molly come to light when Tilly, Teddy, and Molly find themselves at a movie theater with Molly as a full-blown disruptive force, and a later scene with Molly’s announcing of some visitors to the house, “Tilly, Princess Elizabeth is here for a fitting,” followed by “Tilly, Gloria Swanson’s here!”
Eventually the truth comes out and Tilly learns she isn’t really responsible for a death when she was a child, which is nice, but there is still death and destruction to come for Tilly and the town. All does not really end that well, as most dark comedies should, when “The Dressmaker” comes to a close.
There are some challenges in watching “The Dressmaker.” One aspect for me is it seemed a tad too long. I think they could have gotten to the meat of the story quicker without losing too much, and some of the dialogue just kept going on and on. The other issue is Liam Hemsworth as Teddy for this movie. As my wife pointed out to me early during the movie, he just looked to modern and well-kept for the role. His wardrobe was perfect, his hair was always perfect, and his beard too trimmed, especially for a trailer park, farmer kind of guy in a dusty, Australian town. All I kept thinking for the rest of the movie was how she was right, and that they needed either to dirty him up, or have someone a little more rough around the edges in the role.
My wife did have a problem with the accents of the characters, as the movie was set in Australia and Kate sounded too British, although the Liam was perfect, which makes sense with his being from Australia and all. It didn’t bother me, though.
There is some decent, dark comedy stuff, and the movie is kooky enough to leave you scratching your head while still enjoying it, but the length and perfectness of Teddy brought me down a bit. I’ll wrap things up with “The Dressmaker” as a 3 1/2 star out of 5 movie. Decent enough, could have been better with some tightening up, but if you want some dark comedy-ness on a weekend viewing, this one might take you there.
In terms of extras, the two main ones are “Designing ‘The Dressmaker,’”, kind of a “where did we get all of these clothes” thing, but “The Story” featurette does fill in some gaps you might have missed in the plot while you went to get another glass of wine.
That’s it for this one! L8R!!