January 9, 2017
Showings 4:30, 7:00 and 9:10pm
Rated: 14A | Drama | 118 minutes
This wickedly comic drama stars Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs, Labor Day) as a worldly dressmaker returning to the Australian backwater that exiled her. The latest feature from writer-director Jocelyn Moorhouse (How to Make an American Quilt) after an almost 20-year hiatus, The Dressmaker is a sumptuous, saucy, and scandalous tale of love and vengeance in the mid-1950s. It also has the most fabulous gowns this side of the red carpet.
Tilly Dunnage (Winslet) arrives in the small town of Dungatar like a gunslinger: broad-brimmed hat on her head, sleek pumps on her feet, trusty Singer sewing machine at her side. Driven away when she was just 10 years old for supposedly committing a heinous crime, the resilient Tilly found her way to Paris, where she trained under legendary designer Madeleine Vionnet. She has come back to look after her ailing mother, Molly (Judy Davis, The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, To Rome With Love), but, with her beguiling, form-fitting dresses, she’s soon turning heads at the town rugby game— most notably the one atop the broad shoulders of star player Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth, Cut Bank).
When Tilly is hired to design and custom-make haute couture for the more rebellious local ladies, a battle line is drawn: on one side, those who love Tilly’s progressive style, and on the other side, Dungatar’s conservative busybody contingent. As tension between these camps escalates, Tilly’s shadowy past becomes her enemies’ most potent weapon — but this fearsome fashionista has resolved to never let Dungatar get the best of her again.
Winslet exudes femme-fatale danger and sexiness as Tilly — she’s Clint Eastwood meets Rita Hayworth. And Moorhouse, working with co-writer P.J. Hogan in adapting Rosalie Ham’s novel, infuses The Dressmaker with a perfect blend of glamour and edginess, generating laughter and intrigue right up to the explosive finale.
Moorhouse’s adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s 2000 novel may lead audiences to expect a primmer, more well-behaved movie based on its title alone, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have them in stitches.
—Justin Chang, Variety