This Australian version of Rosalie Ham’s popular novel of the same name begins as farce, then sequeys sweetly into romantic fantasy before morphing into bloody revenge mode at its climax. Despite captivating work by Kate Winslet (as a revenge-seeking young woman returning to her hometown in Australia’s outback) and a scene-stealing turn by veteran Judy Davis (as Winslet’s cranky mother) Dressmaker has little to recommend beyond ample opportunities to examine Liam Hemsworth’s pectorals and Ms. Winslet’s zaftig figure.
Winslet plays an illegitimate child banished from her close-knit hometown who returns as a famous couture designer to wreck havoc on those who did her wrong. Yet when unexpected love intrudes in the person of Hemsworth’s a ruggedly handsome footballer, Winslet’s character begins to create beautiful gowns that transform the town’s ingénues & matrons alike into glamorous, sophisticated women of the world. But this generosity and fashion genius doesn’t eliminate the cattiness of her detractors and when fate deals a cruel blow to Winslet’s budding romance, she extracts a devastating revenge…
Writer/director Jocelyn Moorhouse, who co-wrote the script with her husband P.J. Hogan, never settles on a consistent tone throughout Dressmaker’s 2-hour running time and despite winning a baker’s dozen of Australian cinematic awards, this one just isn’t likely to resonate with international audiences.
The Verdict? Intermittent flashes of cleverness interspersed with chunks of bewildering footage apparently designed to appeal primarily to a down-under audience.
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