The Dressmaker (2015) – MOVIE REVIEW – BEST FRIEND RECOMMENDED – FREE ON PRIME

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By Melissa Antoinette Garza

 

I enjoy Kate Winslet as an actress.  Despite disliking the wildly popular TITANIC (1997), I recognize her amazing performance.  In productions like, THE HOLIDAY (2006), THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE (2003) and the phenomenal ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004), Winslet revealed her versatility and overall talent as an actress.

When my best friend mentioned THE DRESSMAKER (2015) was a must-see and that it had Winslet in it, I immediately sought it out.  After all, Winkler’s been my best friend for over 15 years and we have similar tastes.  I mean, who else would enjoy spending a Sunday afternoon seeking out Don Johnson and Rod Stewart videos.

THE DRESSMAKER is free on Amazon prime and was actually created by Amazon Studios.  Taking place in the early 50s, it follows Tilly (Kate Winslet) returning to her hometown years after she was taken away to a boarding school for murdering a young school boy.  She is unable to remember the day in question, and shows back up to find out if she committed the crime.

Though the entire town looks down on her and talks behind her back, they run to her when they need a dress.  If the townspeople’s reaction wasn’t bad enough, her disabled mother Molly (Judy Davis) is a hermit who blocked out having a daughter.

The only people in town who welcomes her back is Sergeant Farrat (Hugo Weaving) and Teddy (Liam Hemsworth).  Farrat secretly adores expensive fabric and women’s clothing.  Teddy has a thing for Tilly and doesn’t care about the people in town or the negativity surrounding her.

One of the most interesting aspects of THE DRESSMAKER is the different people within town.  To watch the activities and actions of the cheaters, liars, abusers, and those that are envious is really captivating.

Hugo Weaving was terrific in the role of a man who did the unthinkable to protect his job and his way of life.  Caught in women’s clothing in a small town in the 1950’s would be disastrous for a police officer, and Weaving delves into Farrat’s conflict in a way that’s both believable and heart-wrenching.  Even though he did something wrong, one can’t help but sympathize with him.

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The main antagonist, Evan Pettyman (Shane Bourne) and his poor distraught wife Marigold (Alison Whyte) are the parents of the boy who was killed.  Evan has some dirty laundry he doesn’t want exposed and keeps Marigold drunk and in a confused state of mind, while he runs around with other women.  He’s a disgusting sociopath while most of the other townspeople are just awful narcissistic human beings.  Still, they’re a joy to watch.

In fact, much of the film has a comedic tone, but it isn’t slapstick by any means.  There are also moments that will make the viewer angry, sad, and intrigued.  There’s a lot going on, but it isn’t difficult to follow.  Anyone who has lived in a small town, worked in an office setting or have had small-minded people in their lives can relate to Tilly’s mindset.

At one point, Tilly opts to get revenge on all those who wronged her and it’s completely understandable.  She never sways from being the protagonist.  Winslet expertly displays both Tilly’s strength and weaknesses.  Even when Tilly is wearing a brave façade, her fear and self-doubt is visible because of Winslet’s talent for showing inner-turmoil.  Tilly is what true feminism looks like.  She doesn’t have to conform and she’s strong when she needs to be, but she’s human.  I hate when films refuse to give women emotionality because they think it’s sexist.  Women cry.  Women like to be loved and accepted for who they are.  Women crave attention and enjoy pretending that they don’t.  Women often have barriers and walls up for protection but are desperate for someone good to break them down.  That’s not sexist, it’s human nature.

Women aren’t robots and they shouldn’t be written like an Arnold Schwarzenegger film.  The two genders are different from one another.  That’s just biology.  I adore action films, but I typically like my action heroes to be manly men.  I love films about strong women who fight to be who they are and don’t let anyone tell them to be different than who they are, but I like it to be realistic.  Women are more emotional than men and that’s not a bad thing.  It’s a strength.  It should be celebrated as part of womanhood.  I hate that feminism has branched into taking the worst qualities of masculinity and pushing it at women.  I can’t help but think of that disgustingly dreadful speech by Ashley Judd at the Women’s March.  We don’t have to compete with men on grossness or try to force the idea that we are the same.  We’re different and it’s great being different.  We can still shave our legs, wear pretty dresses, and aim to act classy.  Winslet conveys a genuine elegance in her portrayal.

The entire cast does an amazing job. From beginning to end, the movie captivates.  The conclusion is a tad complicated, but impossible to go into without giving away spoilers.

If you have AMAZON PRIME, definitely catch this one.  It’s a fantastic movie that is all heart.

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Scared Stiff Rating:  8/10