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The Dressmaker features fifties-couture competition and fairy tale flair Add to ...

  • Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse
  • Written by Jocelyn Moorhouse and P.J. Hogan
  • Classification 14A

If you’re going to have a scenery-chewing crone, it may as well be Judy Davis. In this adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s bestselling period gothic, she’s Molly – the mother of the titular headstrong prodigal daughter (Kate Winslet, never better than when she’s wicked, even if here justifiably so). And what scenery – not just the wardrobes but the Australian wheat belt, lensed by Don McAlpine. The story of fashion-mad eccentrics (a cross-dressing constable) and mean-spirited townsfolk who engage in competitive fifties-couture one-upmanship has the quality of a fairy tale. It’s as well dressed as the novel but diluted for the screen, so the simplifications yield an only lightly barbed, almost cozy satire. No less satisfying, it’s a beautiful one where revenge is a dress best sewn draped on the bias. Think: Mrs. ’Arris Goes to Paris with The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, by way of Peyton Place.

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