Review: Kate Winslet makes ‘The Dressmaker’ all her own
In the delicious, wonderfully odd Australian revenge tale “The Dressmaker,” Kate Winslet is a wild-card clothier who shows up in her home town to settle a childhood score.
From the moment Winslet opens the film, dragging a cigarette and seething “I’m back, you bastards” as she pulls up in her outback town of Dungatar, “The Dressmaker” is off to the races.
And what a strange race it turns out to be.
Winslet plays Tilly, who left town many years ago with a dark secret. She arrives home, wielding her sewing machine like a shotgun, and begins taking care of her mother (Judy Davis), who lives in squalor atop the town’s hill.
Among the townspeople with whom she crosses paths are a cross-dressing cop (Hugo Weaving) and a handsome young footballer (Liam Hemsworth).
They become part of her plot to discover her past, as she gives many in town a stunning makeover along the way.
Jocelyn Moorhouse, directing her first film since 1997’s “A Thousand Acres,” fashions “The Dressmaker” as a bizarre little ode to her Australian homeland. Its tonal peculiarities may present problems for U.S. audiences, but if you’re able to catch its wave, it’s quite a wild ride.
Winslet is allowed to flex her seldom-utilized humor muscles, and she’s a barnburner in a fun, juicy role.
The script (by Moorehouse and P.J. Hogan, based on Rosalie Ham’s novel), is a bit lengthy, and takes a few extra turns rather than coming to a clean stop. But there’s plenty to admire here, especially if your taste is tailored to the unusual.
Rated R for brief language and a scene of violence
Running time: 118 minutes