Taglines: A film about love, revenge and haute couture.
In 1926 in the Australian outback town of Dungatar, schoolboy Stewart Pettyman dies in unknown circumstances. The only witness to his death, schoolgirl Myrtle Dunnage, is branded a murderer and exiled from the town by Stewart’s father and town councillor, Evan Pettyman (Shane Bourne). 25 years later in 1951, Myrtle, now an accomplished dressmaker and going by the name Tilly (Kate Winslet), returns to her hometown to take care of her ill mother Molly (Judy Davis).
Upon arrival, she is greeted by local police sergeant Horatio Farrat (Hugo Weaving), who is secretly a cross-dresser. Tilly returns home to find the house squalid and her mother plainly mentally ill which has earned Tilly’s mother the nickname “Mad Molly” throughout town. Unable to remember the events of 1926, Tilly asks her mother about Stewart Pettyman’s death, as she believes that day left her cursed. Molly claims to know nothing about the incident.
The entire town is quickly alerted to Tilly’s return, as well as that of William Beaumont (James Mackay), son of the wealthy and snobbish Elsbeth Beaumont (Caroline Goodall). Gertrude Pratt (Sarah Snook), the daughter of the owners of the town’s general store, possesses feelings for William, but lacks the confidence to tell him.
The town gathers for the local Australian Rules final game, and everyone is shocked when Tilly turns up to the match in a bright red couture gown that distracts the Dungatar players. During the interval, the handsome Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth) confronts Tilly about her distracting dress, and Tilly agrees to change. After changing into a black but equally alluring outfit, Tilly gives her business card to Gertrude, offering to make her a dress for the upcoming footballers dance.
The last quarter of the game begins, with the teams having swapped ends of the field. Due to this, the opposing team from the nearby town of Winyerp are distracted by Tilly’s dress, and Dungatar emerges as the winner. Later, Gertrude arrives at Molly’s house to take up Tilly’s offer. Tilly agrees to make the dress in exchange for the truth about Stewart Pettyman’s death. Gertrude reveals that Tilly had hidden from Stewart Pettyman who had been bullying her unmercifully, but that she revealed Tilly’s location in self-defence. Subsequently, Stewart died, but in circumstances unknown to her. Despite feeling betrayed by Gertrude, Tilly agrees to make the dress for her.
The Dressmaker is an Australian revenge comedy-drama film written and directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, based on the novel of the same name by Rosalie Ham. It stars Kate Winslet as a femme fatale in the titular role of the dressmaker, Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage, who returns to a small Australian town to take care of her ailing, mentally unstable mother. The film explores the themes of revenge and creativity and was described by Moorhouse as “Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven with a sewing machine.”
Directed by: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Starring: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Sarah Snook, Hugo Weaving, Caroline Goodall, Kerry Fox, Rebecca Gibney, Hayley Magnus
Screenplay by: P.J. Hogan, Jocelyn Moorhouse
Production Design by: Roger Ford
Cinematography by: Donald McAlpine
Film Editing by: Jill Bilcock
Costume Design by: Marion Boyce, Margot Wilson
Set Decoration by: Lisa Thompson
Art Direction by: Lucinda Thomson
Music by: David Hirschfelder
MPAA Rating: R for brief language and a scene of violence.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: September 23, 2016