Revenge, couture go hand in hand in Aussie film 'The Dressmaker'

Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:13pm EDT
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - Secrets and high fashion fuel the fires of revenge in "The Dressmaker", a period film about a sophisticated woman who returns to her small-minded Australian town to seek retribution against those who sent her away as a child accused of murder.

The film, which stars British actress Kate Winslet as the titular character, and features Australians Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth and Hugo Weaving, depicts some of the ugliest facets of human behavior through the town's eccentric residents.

Tilly Dunnage is a dressmaker who worked for the great couture fashion houses of Paris. She uses her skills to make sumptuous attire for the frumpily dressed residents of her Australian home town in exchange for information to piece together the truth of what happened when she was a child.

Oscar-winning Winslet is no stranger to extravagant period costumes, and the iconic 1950s styles are center stage in "The Dressmaker" against a backdrop of dust and tumbleweed.

"The film is very visually arresting," said Winslet. "It's such a beautiful period ... For me, that is when the female shape probably started to be celebrated."

The movie had its world premiere this week at the Toronto International Film Festival and is directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, whose previous works include "Proof" and "How to Make an American Quilt".

The film serves as a platform to showcase the well of talent from Down Under. Davis is compelling as Winslet's mother - "Mad Molly" to the rest of the town - while Weaving plays the secretly cross-dressing Sergeant Farrat.

Winslet, who was seen earlier this year in "Insurgent" and appears in "Steve Jobs" next month, described Tilly as headstrong, self-possessed, and unapologetic about who she is.   Continued...

Actor Kate Winslet on Centre Court at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 12, 2015.  REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth