Though I deeply admire the acting of Kate Winslet, I intensely disliked this film. It was messy, derivative , and poorly written and directed. The characterized types whom basically posed or over- acted were so petty and self-serving that the revenge of the final conflagration seemed petty, too. Why did the classy Winslet take part in this mish-mash of farce, slap-stick, romance, pseudo western revenge , noir comedy ! ” The Dressmaker” is a Coen Brothers knock-off without the snappy dialogue.
Where to begin. The first forty minutes were tedious as innumerable characters pranced through the dire , presumably, Australian set. Eccentricity alone does not a cast make, and stereotypes from cross-dressers to unfaithful husbands brought no enlightenment to our psyches. Winslet, though beautiful, was a decade or two too old for her romantic interest, who ended up suffocating in a silo of rat-infested sorghum for no purpose. Winslet is forty and Liam Helmsworth, the love interest is twenty-six. You notice the age disparity and it matters here.
The gowns created by our returning, exiled-at-ten , pseudo-murderer were stunning. The over-acting of seamstress mother not so much so. Her ( Judy Davis’s ) death scene being one of the worst. Cast looked like they were having fun, but I am sorry I paid to watch them play slap-stick,laughing -stocks.
Revenge-driven themes are never my favorite. Pettiness and innuendo are maddening , but “The Help” (2011), which stuck to comedic farce did a better job of evening the justice score. Missing in “The Dressmaker” is any dialogue worth repeating, or any consistent characterizations. Mixing genres can be fun. This time it did not work. Australian director Jocelyn Moorhouse needs to re-shoot this one after someone actually writes a script.