An Australian film, it is created mainly by women. Produced by Sue Maslin, it is directed, and the screenplay is written, by Jocelyn Moorhouse. Kate Winslett as Myrtle "Tilly" Dunnage, and Judy Davis as Molly Dunnage, the premier characters, play well off each other.
The film is fantasy, and as such, highly entertaining. Anyone who has lived in a small community will recognize the foibles of human nature that are revealed. Everyone knows all about everyone else. Memories are long; malice abounds; social snobbery persists.
As in a good Western film, a solitary character arrives in town: in this case, Tilly returning home. She is seeking revenge for a past injustice perpetrated against her. The setting is exotic: a small community in the Australian outback. She transforms the town by performing "before" and "after" miracles for the women, using her creative skills as a dressmaker of high couture. She also must have been a hair stylist and cosmetic expert, as that is part of the individual pictures of each woman. The fashions are spectacular, especially the wedding gowns. If you love fashion, this film is such a treat, and is so enjoyable.
We also have a strip-tease scene. Teddy is asked to remove his clothes so that Tilly can assess his physique for the suit she is going to make for him. There is a "will he, won't he" moment, and a collective chuckle from all the women in the cineplex as he does. His muscles ripple, and the women enjoy the view. The next question that arises is will he remove his jeans? Again, the slight moment of hesitation, as if he were a little bashful, and then he does. Another collective laugh from the women in the audience. He is wearing white boxer underpants: appreciated by the women as those little bikini briefs are not really too flattering. Altogether hilarious!
We learn the dark secret from Tilly's past, she takes her revenge, and then rides out of town again on the rail road. Jocelyn Moorhouse has likened this film to Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. In many ways they are similar in that a stranger rides into town, wreak vengeance, changing the town, then rides out again. Once you've said that, this film is not Hollywood, and is made by women, not men.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Dressmaker, as did my friends. We found it funny and enjoyable. A "feel good" movie!