The Dressmaker, written and directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, was released in 2015 and can be classified as a revenge comedy drama. The film is based on a novel by Rosalie Ham written in 2000, and the main character is Kate Winslett, who plays Tilly Dunnage.
Tilly Returns to Town
The film is set in Dungalar in the Australian outback where Tilly grew up. After 25 years, Tilly returns to her hometown to visit her mother Molly, played by Judy Davis, who is mentally ill and no longer able to take care of herself and her home is in a mess. We are given insight to why Tilly left as the film progresses. We meet Stewart Pettyman who died in 1926 and Tilly was blamed for his death and was banished from the town by Horatio Farrat, played by Hugo Weaving who was the local sergeant.
Tilly shocks the small town with her sophisticated outfits that are as cutting edge as the online slots Canada has to offer, and causes many heads to turn and the ladies in the town beg Tilly to make them outfits just like hers. Gertrude Pratt, played by Sarah Snook asks Tilly to make her a special dress for the footballer’s dance, and Tilly agrees in exchange for the truth of how Stewart Pettyman died. Tilly is unable to remember the events of that fateful day, and believes that she was responsible and so she was cursed. Gertrude tells Tilly that Stewart used to bully her and reveals the truth to her.
Sergeant Farrat tells Tilly that he was blackmailed into forcing her out of town by Stewart’s father, Evan Pettyman, played by Shane Bourne. Farrat was a closet cross dresser and he and Tilly became friends and they shared their love of designer clothing. The people of the town are beginning to accept Tilly back and Evan Pettyman is not happy about this and he tries to get her out of town by getting another dressmaker, Una Pleasance, played by Sacha Horler to start up another dressmaking service. Tilly also falls in love with Teddy McSwiney played by Liam Hensworth, but their love story has a tragic ending.
The Truth is Revealed
Teddy recounts the full story of the day that Stewart died and Tilly finds out that it was an accident and she was not to blame for his death. Stewart tried to hurt her by pushing her up against a wall and threatened to kill her by charging at her. Tilly moved out of the way and he went head first into the wall and broke his neck. Teddy’s brother, Barney McSwiney, played by Gyton Grantley witnessed the event but was afraid to come forward as he thought people would not believe him.
Molly encourages Tilly to make use of her talent for dressmaking as a way of getting back at the people of the town for treating her so badly. Molly dies from a stroke and soon after that many things start going wrong in the town. The local chemist who mistreated Molly drowns and his wife lets him die as he mistreats her.
The Dressmaker is an excellent film and is an important addition to your must see movie list.