One of our favorite movies of the year is Jocelyn Moorhouse’s tragicomic gem, The Dressmaker. Based on a novel by Rosalie Ham, the story centers on a chic, youngish dressmaker (Kate Winslet) who returns to her home village, in Australia, to settle some old scores and figure out whether she did or did not kill someone as a child. With its powerful female protagonist, goofy supporting characters, and theatrical approach, The Dressmaker is not unlike Love & Friendship—which, while richer in verbal flourish, is less tempestuous and not as cinematic. To her credit, Moorhouse effortlessly switches tones—moving from black comedy to melodrama—fashioning a movie around a rich plot. So rich, in fact, that at least twice we thought the movie had climaxed—and not because we wanted it to end—just when it picked up and got even more delicious. Judy Davis shines as the dressmaker’s bedraggled, irascible mother; Liam Hemsworth offers an outstanding performance as a love interest. And the score, by David Hirschfelder, is magnificent. It’s safe to say, then, that we liked the movie, and that’s without mentioning the not-so-hidden gem—the dresses.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White