Official Synopsis: A glamorous, worldly dressmaker returns to her small Australian hometown to seek the truth behind her notorious reputation. This dark and quirky comedy stars Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet as Tilly Dunnage, who cares for her eccentric mother (Academy Award® nominee Judy Davis), schemes with the local sergeant (Hugo Weaving) who has secrets of his own, and falls for local farmer Teddy (Liam Hemsworth). As she starts to unravel her scandalous past, she transforms the town’s women with her exquisite creations. Armed with only her sewing machine and haute couture style, Tilly shows she is a force to be reckoned with and that revenge never goes out of style.
The Dressmaker delivers a unique story and an equally unique cast of characters. Tilly’s engagements with the inhabitants of the small Australian village provides the most entertaining parts of the film. The strengths of The Dressmaker are the acting and cinematography. Everyone gives an excellent performance in the film aside from Hemsworth, who isn’t bad by any means but doesn’t deliver anything memorable. The visual style adds a great deal to the film’s quirkiness. A true sense of separation from society is felt by showing the desolate landscapes that surround the village. The shot selection could best be described as a slight combination of Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick.
Unfortunately, the tone of the film is misguided as there is no clear direction in what it wants to be. The film goes back and forth from being a murder mystery to a love story. The film begins to lose its charm once Tilly and Teddy begin their romance. There is no real connection felt between the two before or during their romance. The film could have been mightily improved had the story stuck with the murder mystery and developed villagers rather than the attempted romance of the two leads.
The film seems unable to identify what is the most important story within it. At times, the romance between Lilly and Teddy takes center stage of the film. A few moments later, the characters will go back and forth trying to figure out the crimes of the past. The film constantly goes switches between these plotlines without giving proper attention. If the character of Teddy and the romantic plotline were removed from the film it could have been much more precise with what it was trying to accomplish.
The special features include a segment of the actors describing why they decided to join the project as well as their experiences working with the crew, as well as the film-crew talking about the costume design. A lengthy photo gallery is also featured in the bonus content.