The Cue Dot Confessions
September 29, 2015
It’s been a while since we Australians have let our cinematic freak flag fly. I’d even go as far as to say it’s been yonks. I know in the ’90s we picked up a bit of a complex about our rampant cinematic esotericism. Those drawling accents. That ridiculously over the top larrikinism. Those karaoke scenes.
No doubt you have a stance on the industry-defining output of those years. But, whatever it is, it is difficult to argue that the “classics”: Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Strictly Ballroom and Muriel’s Wedding didn’t scar the national psyche. And, if you dig real deep, it is probably just as difficult to claim that you don’t hold a burning nostalgia for that golden age.
Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Jocelyn Moorhouse and Muriel’s Wedding‘s PJ Hogan are about to fan that fire.
And Liam Hemsworth’s about to fan just about everything else.
Taking cues from Rosalie Ham’s bestselling novel (same name, same gist, much less fun), The Dressmaker sees maligned woman, Tilly Dunnage (a jaw-droppingly well accented Kate Winslet) returning to her backwater hometown to get to the bottom of the persecution of her past. Trading Paris chic for the dust bowl of Dungatar, Tilly reconnects with her crotchety old mother, Molly (a brusquely hilarious Judy Davis), and previous from-afar love interest, hot sewerage pumper, Teddy (Liam Hemsworth).
Draped in haute couture direct from the runways of Europe (via her own Singer), Tilly attempts to win over Dungatar’s shit kicking well-to-dos who made her life hell (played with full blown ocker eccentricity by anyone who’s anyone from Australia’s film and television past). But when all else fails, murder might actually be the way to go…
Relish is the word here. Everyone on camera and behind it is having the time of his or her life. It is difficult to tell who’s salivating more at the deliciously fashionable femme fatale stylings on display: the curvaceous Winslet, the local football team (fronted by the quickly-surpassing-his-brother’s-hotness Hemsworth), Hugo Weaving’s “flamboyant” copper, or Moorhouse herself, who clearly delights in letting loose on the genre red herrings she has to hand.
All this translates into a mish-mash romp of the highest order. The Dressmaker may not be neat (or able to be neatly categorised) but it is an absolute blast from start to finish. There are three or four films in here but with the outlandishness so thickly applied and the absolute exuberance of the performances (too many to name but rank Davis, Weaving and the eminently transformable Sarah Snook up there with Winslet), Moorhouse manages to bring home a darkly comic crowd-pleaser.