In the still of the night, a daring damsel
returns to the town that exiled her decades before. Dressed in silk that stuck
to her in the wind, like a rumour to a small town. She wore a gaze as strong as
Lady Macbeth’s. Whispering through red lined lips; “I’m back you bastards.”
It was clear that lead Kate Winslet, playing a
sophisticated Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage, was chasing those who did her wrong.
Dressmaker is truly a rolling tale of revenge and
reputation – heightened, in a 1950’s rural Australian setting. Where the dry
gum trees kiss the endless skies and the rusty windmill stands on neighbourhood
watch, overlooking the townsite, buried in red dirt and secrets.
There is a somber tone felt throughout the film. One with tragedy and heartache. The audience is begging for justice and answers, much like Tilly herself. An ostentatious dressmaker, or as the town folk like to label her, an amnesia struck, accused murderer. Gown by gown, Tilly stitches for the locals of Dungatar. Subsequently unstitching the truth about what really happened on the night of fellow classmate Stewart Pettyman’s death, 25 years ago.
The town’s heartthrob Teddy McSwiney played by one third of the Hemsworth brothers and Australian heartthrob, Liam, takes an immediate interest in Tilly. Their love story blossoms but is a rickety journey. A reminder to us all to love hard before it’s too late. Another prominent character is Tilly’s Mother (Judy Davis), who the Dungatar community call Mad Molly. She lives in a hot tin shed and appears to suffer from Alzheimer’s. Through Molly, we see tough love, forgiveness and the hardships associated with losing your memory.
The film is important because it shows the
dangers of small town mentality. Where tradition meets expectations without
room for change. Where growth is frowned upon and difference is belittled. The
disparities segregating class becomes generational and it appears to be a tough
cycle to crack.
The isolation of small towns can trap toxicity
and be really devastating on a community. There is a reluctance to progress and
townsfolk are often set in their ways. We see themes of domestic violence,
alcoholism and little services for the elderly or children with special needs.
There is little hope for any of the victims. Although set in the 1950s, these
issues present as a glass mirror into some of the issues still suffocating our
rural Australian communities today.
The Dressmaker is a story that will have you pinballing between laughter and tears, grasping for answers and for justice. There are more twists and turns than a game of snakes and ladders.
Perhaps the most devastating twist was with
Teddy. It was an avalanche of heartbreak when he jumped down a silo, mistakenly
landing in sorghum. He suffocated with Tilly left helpless. The snowball of
death continued when Molly had an awful stroke in the middle of the dusty
street. It was then that we believed that perhaps Tilly really was cursed.
After all, how much can possibly go wrong in a town of 25? It shows us the
relationship between love and time. Love while you have it, because it can be
ripped from your arms at any point in time.
Have your tissues ready because they are
scenes that will leave you a sobbing mess.
Happy tears are not far around the corner however, and Tilly gets her
sweet, well deserved and hard earned revenge. A tale of justice and vengeance
that goes out with a bang. Literally.
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