The Dressmaker (2015)

Set in a 1950’s claustrophobic hamlet in the vast Australian outback, this is a tale of a woman returning to her childhood home in order to make sense of her upbringing and to right some wrongs. Judy Davis and Kate Winslett treat us to stellar performances as mother and daughter, although the voluptuous Ms Winslett must on this occasion give up the beauty crown to Liam Hemsworth who plays the local love interest living in a tiny oval caravan within this little community.

A thread of quirky humour intermingles in an unsatisfactory way with multiple dramatic strands: the pariah returning to an unwelcoming town but with acquired sophisticated tastes and skills which the locals quickly appreciate, a fractured mother/daughter relationship, dysfunctional and abusive marriages, drugs, seamstress rivalry, ancient secrets and lies, cross dressing, psychological and physical disabilities. Too many in one movie for director Jocelyn Moorhouse to do them justice. Had she been much more adventurous and camped it up like Wes Anderson it might have made an amusing and coherent project.

Without revealing the plot, the other problem I have is what felt to me like a false ending – a not particularly convincing one, at that – after which I lost interest.

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