DATELINE: Dunga-Hill Something, Australia
As Tilly Dunnage
When you have an Australian comedy-murder mystery-revenge story called The Dressmaker, you may begin like a house afire. Sadly, it ends the same way literally, which is not so hot.
Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth are both highly watchable in the lead roles, and extremely attractive.
Though when Tilly (Winslet) arrives in 1951 back to her childhood home looking like a Parisian model, her opening statement indicates that she is out for revenge. Alas, that doesn’t really transpire until almost the end of the movie. Mostly she torments the rugby teams.
We never saw Audrey Hepburn play an arsonist/murderer.
Kate Winslet looks stunning coming off a bus in the middle of the outback, looking like the Paris runway was down the street. The film echoes many 1950s movies, like the Audrey Hepburn vehicles where she wore the best Dior.
The film is highly entertaining for the first 90 minutes, then sinks by its own dead weight. And we do mean dead.
The Dressmaker comes with her Singer sewing machine and starts to make gorgeous gowns and day wear. We did wonder where all that material came from. Why quibble?
With stylish clothing worn by the women cast in stunning transformation, it is reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s appearance in Sabrina. Indeed, the film is a throwback to 1950, when the characters even go see Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard.
Of course, the rub is that the dressmaker has amnesia when it comes to having murdered a childhood playmate. The police sergeant is a cross-dressing friend, thank heavens.
Did Winslet‘s character kill a young boy? With the cast of characters being strangely off- putting, you will be intrigued. For a while.
The movie devolves into soapy opera in the final 30 minutes. There are so many deaths you need a scorecard to figure out who’s killing whom and why.
However, the early visuals are so striking and unforgettable, you almost forgive the bad ending.