So while everyone else went to see the other Liam Hemsworth film last week (you may have heard of it, a little film called The Hunger Games) I went to see this Australian film starring Hemsworth and Kate Winslet based on the book by Rosalie Ham. The movie has already been nominated for several AACTA awards but will it win me over?
As a young girl Tildy was sent away from her home in Dungatar, Australia after the death of a young boy. Returning years later in 1951 to care for her sick mother, a now grown up Tildy (Kate Winslet) entrances the town with her dressmaking skills. Her creations soon become in high demand but Tildy is still treated with suspision after all these years. As she tries to discover the truth about the incident she becomes romantically involved with the local hunk Teddy (Liam Hemsworth) and depsite her better judgement wonders if she can move on from her troubles in Dungatar.
The trailers I saw for this movie made it seem like The Dressmaker was a comedy with lots of scenes of Liam Hemsworth with his shirt off. The movie itself is a weird mix of films. I don’t mind films that crosses different genres but The Dressmaker had a distinctly odd tone throughout. It can’t decide what kind of movie it wants to be and doesn’t strike the right balance. Is it a Revenge drama? Comedy? Mystery? It can’t decide what kind of movie it wants to be and so you are never sure what you should be feeling.
Another odd thing was the love interest Teddy is supposedly to be the same age as Tilly yet is played by twenty five year old Liam Hemsworth. Why not just have Teddy be younger than Tilly? Or cast someone older if the age is important? Its just a weird casting choice. The rest of the town folk of Dungatar can come across as cliches or cartoonish. The only ones who manage to bring more life to their characters are Judy Davis as Tilly’s mother and Hugo Weaving as the flamboyant Sergeant who sent Tilly away all those years ago.
The film obviously wants the death of the young boy Stewart to be a mystery but no explaination is given as to why Tilly can’t remember what happened that day. I guess we’re meant to presume it’s from the truama, but the mystery is a bit pointless and the film would have worked just as well if Tilly had remembered what had happened before she came back to town.
All these complaints may seem as though I really disliked the movie which isn’t the case at all. Winslet, as usual is great as the rebellious and determined Tilly while Davis and Weaving are the stand outs of the supportings roles. The film also looks gorgeous from it’s hot,stifling setting of Dungatar to the gorgeous dresses that Tilly makes for the townsfolk. It is also quite funny in places but this jars with the mystery and tragedy that are thrown into the mix. All in all it feels like there is a great film in The Dressmaker underneath all the flourishes.
Rating 3/5 – a mixed bag but entertaining and Winslet is on top form