The Dressmaker brings to screen a successful Australian novel by who sets her 1950s story in a small dessert town in the middle of the big Nowhere which is the Australian wilderness. It’s one of these ‘out-of-the-track’ films which generates extreme opinions and wins lovers and haters, because in order to enjoy it, one needs to like films with weird characters and situations, accept a story that departs from the usual right vs. evil conditions, and stop considering real life credibility as a principal criteria to evaluate a movie.





Apparently this is a story of home coming, of lost memory and revenge, with  Mirtle ‘Tilly’ Dunnage coming home to imaginary Dungatar, many years after she was sent away ostracized for allegedly killing another kid at the age of 10. The ugly crying girl has turned into a beautiful and elegant woman () who not only attracts the stares of the male population and envy of the feminine one, but will also change their lives in many ways. She does not remember a thing about the crime that she is accused of having committed in childhood, and will try to bring back the memories and put her life back on track.

Director at her 5th film made after 18 years of interruption in her career chose a mix of styles and genres. Some of the (‘professional’) critics that I have read blame her for not picking and sticking to one well-known pattern. Is this film a comedy, a romantic story, a feminist drama, a revenge saga, a bloody action movie? I would say that the quality of the film resides in the fact that it is all of these combined and more.


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Then we have the fashion story. Tilly has become a dressmaker in Europe and will use her skills to change the appearances and the lives of the women in the village. The classic Greek saying ‘The man is his clothes’ better known in English by ‘clothes make the man’ (Shakespeare used it among other) was never better served. I found the idea charming, it also remembered me the story of a lesser known Israeli film ‘Turn Left at the End of the World’ in which it is cricket that changes the lives of the inhabitants of a desert town.

The movie is enjoyable because of a few splendid acting parts. I especially enjoyed as the apparently demented mother of Tilly, and sparkling as the man of the law who secretly loves wearing dresses and ribbons. Kate Winslet is strong and expressive, but the miscasting of her handsome peer was very evident. She seems to be a bit too old for her role, he seems to be a little bit too young for the role. But again, maybe even this miscasting is intentional, and the director gave us one more warning to take the story and the world she created in a non-realistic manner. Her world in its splendid isolation, with its characters that are rather archetypes that real life characters mostly in the comic registry reminded me another lesser know film – the Romanian ‘Somewhere in Palilula’. Tragic death and violence will make their appearance, but terror is inflicted mainly by shooting golf balls, and eventually all falls into farce. Did I mention Tarantino?