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Review: The Dressmaker

Review: The Dressmaker

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The Dressmaker 4 / 5 stars

"I can't write the review. Too in love with Liam Hemsworth."

That's the message that I sent my editor halfway through this film, the glowing screen much to the displeasure of my row mates. But there is something about this film - movie star crushes aside - that makes you fall in love with it.

While perhaps a little OTT at times, there's a vitality, charm and touch of eccentricity present - that spark seen in so many treasured Australian films - make The Dressmaker a gorgeous little piece of cinema. Maybe it's Hugo Weaving's Dior-loving, camp policeman, Judy Davis' slightly mad mother or maybe it's Kate Winslet, in another of the strong roles she has become renowned for.

Adapted from Rosalie Ham's debut 2000 novel, The Dressmaker tells of redemption, revenge and touch of arson. Winslet's Myrtle 'Tilly' Dunnage, from the moment she steps into her childhood hometown of Dungatar, is fierce, sassy and the epitome of everything not country. Fresh from Paris, clad in couture and armed with a Singer sewing machine, she spits: "I'm back, you bastards."

Already outcast as an illegitimate child, Tilly was sent away from the town due to a fatal accident - but fast forward 25 years and she is back, with experience under her belt and ready to take on those who forced her away.

The townfolk may toe the line of caricature at times, but it's the deeper plotlines and exploration of the past that ground the film. Tilly rebuilding her relationship with the Molly, diving into a fresh one with Teddy (Liam Hemsworth), and rebuilding bridges with those from her childhood - see the ugly duckling-style makeover of Gertrude (Sarah Snook) - all add an important gravity.

Darker moments aside, there's something just plain fun about the film, whether it be Tilly's dressmaker dual, a rather unusual game of football or Molly's quick tongue. It all comes back to the endearing eccentricity of Australian characters - and many familiar faces make an appearance in Dungatar - that this make it a film worth your time.

The Dressmaker is in cinemas from October 29.

Words: Lucy Ahern
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