The Dressmaker Blu-ray Review
The Dressmaker is set in the 1950's when Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet; The Divergent Series) returns to her small hometown in Australia after being sent away for allegedly killing a boy when she was a child. Tilly spent her time at boarding school and then traveled Europe and finally ended up in Paris, where she became a dressmaker. Returning to her hometown to take care of her "mad" mother, Molly (Judy Davis; To Rome With Love), she has grown up into the racy, fast woman that everyone gossips about. Tilly's battle begins with the frustration that her mother does not recognize her, continues into taking care of her mother and trying to overcome the reputation of being a murderess. In the middle of all of this, Tilly falls in love with a boy she knew when she was a child, Teddy (Liam Hemsworth; The Hunger Games), now a lovable man.
As the women in the small town approach Tilly one by one, she creates haute couture for each one. Her dresses are unlike anything any of these women have had before and they slowly start opening up and almost accepting Tilly. The dresses seem to be a way for her to reconnect with those she was forced to leave behind but Tilly's struggle with her own demons remains. It is only through the trust she has for Teddy that she is able to finally face her fears and realize that she did not murder the little boy when she was a child. Unfortunately, still thinking she is cursed, tragedy still befalls her. Just when she is about to turn a corner and start afresh the dark creeps back in.
The storyline was unique. It flowed and kept your attention the entire film and I have to give credit to Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, and Judy Davis. Although I was a little confused at the age of Kate's character in comparison to the other grown up children (she seemed of an older generation), Winslet was the perfect actress to be cast. Justin Change, from Variety, is quoted on the front of the Blu-ray cover as stating "Kate Winslet has us in her palm from the moment she steps into the frame" and his observation is immaculate. Winslet has the ability to bring the raw emotion to her characters- whether it's romance or being a stoic bitch in Divergent. In order to pull off Tilly, she had to channel almost every emotion in this film- haughtiness, pride, love, frustration, sadness, and hysteria. Winslet's emotions were subtle and real- they drew you into the story and kept you there the entire film.
The Dressmaker feeds off of emotions as we witnessed with Winslet's performance and does not stop with her. Judy Davis' performance as the mad mother is impeccable. Knowing today what dementia is, it seems as if Molly is suffering from something similar, although it could be simply because of her love for alcohol. She fights Tilly on everything and towards the middle of the movie when Tilly really needs her mother to help her, Molly seems to remember having a daughter and that Tilly is she. The resentment that comes to a head between Tilly and Molly- for Molly sending her away- is finally resolved. Molly tells Tilly that it's killed her not to have her daughter with her but that she didn't want Tilly to come back; she realized Tilly had a chance at life by being away. One wonders if her act at not remembering who Tilly really was in the beginning of the film was a ploy to scare her daughter away and save her from the persecution she thinks her daughter will face coming home.
Liam Hemsworth is the pretty face with the pretty attitude- just enough to melt Tilly's hardened heart. His character, Teddy, loves Tilly from the moment they see each other. It's not obvious to Tilly, but it is obvious to the viewers. While falling in love in the 1950's was a little quicker than what we are used to in modern times, the writers did a fabulous job involving the audience in their subtle love affair and slowly developing their story throughout the entire script. Without the love and trust Tilly has for Teddy, there would be no reconciliation of what happened when Tilly was a little girl. The chemistry between Hemsworth and Winslet reminds me of the love between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook- subtle and almost undetected to the naked eye- but everlasting and true.
A bit of comedy relief is offered by the Sergeant played by Hugo Weaving (V for Vendetta) and is a much-needed figure in the story. Tilly thinks that it was the Sergeant who sent her away after the incident, but finds out that it was really her mystery father. She bonded with the cross-dressing Sergeant who helps her face her past fears. Weaving's character is the much-needed laugh in the movie- the breath of fresh airing sometimes tension breaker. His character was inserted every time the storyline needed a pause from it's intense plot.
Director Jocelyn Moorehouse (How to Make an American Quilt) put together a brilliant tale that people of all ages can appreciate, despite the R rating. The issues – while being handled very differently today- are real, the emotions are pure, and the films brings a whisper of innocence that is missing from so many modern day stories.
One of the points of reviewing the Blu-ray is to talk about the picture quality and the audio. While the picture is MPEV-4 AVC 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and the audio is English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, I can't say that I paid much attention to either because the story was just that exceptional. I was drawn into the scenery and felt like I was in the Australian Outback. The fabric colors were dazzling in contrast to the homespun garb. I never reached for my remote to adjust the volume nor did I ever wonder what the actors said. While neither the audio nor video stood out on any level, they both provided unadulterated support to the film itself, which must mean both were exceptional without becoming the focus of the movie.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray include:
- The Story
- Designing The Dressmaker
- Photo Gallery
Honestly, while I always love watching the Bonus Features, the ones on the Blu-ray don't really add anything to the film or the purchase. Simply stated, one will buy the Blu-ray to own this movie and for no other reason.
The Dressmaker is a 5-star movie with 5-star actors. If you haven't seen The Dressmaker, then run to your closest store on December 27, 2016, and get your own Blu-ray copy.
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MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 119 minutes
Distributed By: Broad Green Pictures
About Jennifer Broderick
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