The Dressmaker

Out Now On-Demand

Kate Winslet is a revenge-seeking femme fatale in this period comedy-thriller adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s novel. Glamorous Tilly (Winslet) returns to her small hometown in rural Australia to pay back those who wronged her, armed with a sewing machine and haute couture style. Co-stars Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving and Judy Davis.

Tilly Dunnage (Winslet) makes a surprise return to her tiny hometown of Dungatar to look after her ailing mother (Davis). It doesn't take long for the glamorous, single globetrotter to set dusty small town tongues wagging, and old resentments to present themselves. As Tilly takes on the foes of her past, there are frocks to be made, and a local hunk (Hemsworth) to flirt with... and maybe a little more. 


Directed by

Written by

Comedy, Drama


Rating: M Mature themes, violence, coarse language and sexual references


Official Site

Old-fashioned in both setting and tone, The Dressmaker is certain to appeal to the older arthouse set, though unlikely to win anyone else over. Ostensibly a revenge-filled black comedy, though fairly toothless, it’s also an opportunity for Kate Winslet to revel in the role of creative, cosmopolitan (and curvy) protagonist Tilly Dunnage as she wreaks havoc on her small country hometown with couture and culture-challenging behaviour ill-befitting stuffy 1950s Australia.

Alongside Winslet are fellow actors of repute - Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook and Liam (yes, appearing shirtless) Hemsworth among them. But despite the thespian talent on screen, the best intentions in forging cheeky farce, and a willingness to follow Rosalie Ham’s novel in occasionally surprising narrative directions, The Dressmaker is let down by a sense of sterility. Ironically for a film about a couturier, it’s hard to escape the overwhelming feeling of watching a TV costume drama.

Winslet and Weaving offer the most nuanced performances, the two castmates able to inhabit initially one-dimensional characters and breathe more life into them as the film unfolds. For Winslet that takes the form of revealing a human heart, capable of both yearning and frailty underneath her intentionally provocative exterior. To Weaving’s credit, he’s able to do more with his supporting role as a cross-dressing cop than just elicit sniggers. While the film’s on his side, though, it plays his fondness for frocks in a manner that is condescendingly comical, another example of The Dressmaker being mired in the past.

For some, The Dressmaker’s brand of comedy will be a warm reminder of films gone by. But as it falls far short of classic status, its throwback elements offer more in the way of irritating limitations than timelessness.

Hollywood Reporter


Boasts enough manic energy and straight-up weirdness to keep you entertained before overstaying its welcome in the final act.

Variety (USA)


It’s surprising how well The Dressmaker coheres, albeit more along narrative lines than tonal ones.

Telegraph (UK)


The film’s major blunder – it’s got plenty of competition – is mistaking Kate Winslet for Rita Hayworth.

Guardian (UK)


A loud, batty, fancy-frocked, sashed-and-stockinged revenge story pitched somewhere between an outback period piece and a Wile E Coyote cartoon.

The Times (UK)


A hodgepodge of comic melodrama, more panto than pathos.

SBS (Australia)


Enormously good fun, especially if you love clothes and enjoy a makeover montage.

The Age (Australia)


If Moorhouse's film sometimes falls out of step, then it at least has the self-belief to go out in a blaze of glory.

Herald Sun (Australia)


In addition to the inspired direction of Jocelyn Moorhouse, The Dressmaker draws ably on the united effort of an appreciably committed cast. (James Croot)


One of the best Australian movies in years.

Loved it!

Quirky, funny & so Australian. So many great Aussie actors, dresses were lovely, a time when women looked elegant & beautifully dressed. A delight to watch when so many movies are all doom & gloom! Yes a bit shallow in the storyline, but who cares, it is not that type of movie. Reminiscent of

Murial's Weddind, Strickly Ballroom, but better. Do yourself a favour & see it! Support the locally made movies!

Fun Aussie

It's like watching a picture of Australia unfolding itself in front of you. Rich in various elements, although shallow in subject.





This wish-fulfilment/revenge fantasy is highly enjoyable, thanks in large part to an entertaining supporting cast of quirky characters. A great, well told story with some delightfully unexpected moments of slapstick (a wedding-dress-gone-wrong chase sequence is a particular highlight) and wince-inducing violence, that make for a darkly funny and satisfying film.




Nice clothes - shame about the script

I need to read more reviews before I pick a movie! This was a really uneven story that was stitched together by some nice clothes.

Go see it

Loved this unashamed chick flick. Yes, a bit cartoonish at times, but an enchanting avenue of escapism. Sure Kate was great. The age difference between Winslett and Snook was hard to disguise, although supposedly their characters were the same age. Overall an enjoyable ride along this meandering tale.

Simply brilliant.

Scenery is stunning. Weaving and Winslet steal every scene. Don't bother with reading the reviews, just go see it. It won't be what you expect and that is part of the brilliance of this movie. Go see it now!




Good movie to watch when your car is at the mechanics

Light entertainment.Crazy australians. Liam Hemsworth phoarrr! I'd give it a 7/10. My cinema was predominantly the retired lot so no problems with annoying cellphones etc. I'd recommend it to my ma.





Best movie I've seen in ages. Funny, clever, sad. Made me laugh out loud and cry. Wonderfully cast and acted. Reminded me of "Strictly Ballroom".

An Australian Classic.

'The Dressmaker' is not the type of film that instantly attracts me to the cinema. It's the wrong genre, (although this film is difficult to place) the wrong story and it creates the wrong type of atmosphere. Leave this to the women, I told myself and go and see something How wrong I was, and how glad I was to jump out of my comfort zone. It was a good excuse to take my good old mum out and treat her to a midday-mid week 'flick' and some company with her son or that is what I told myself when I entered the theatre to find it filled with women and retirees excited to be out and about without the hording masses that congregate on weekends.

'The Dressmaker' has been dubbed as the return of Director Jocelyn Moorhouse to the chair since 1997 and she has delivered a film that will be remembered for some outstanding performances by Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving and Kate Winslet. I will agree to the statement that the film doesn't really fit into any particular mould but this is where it keeps the audience fixated to the screen. Just when you think the film is heading down a particular path, it turns sideways and takes a detour to its final destination. Some people might find this annoying and even film destroying but I believe this is a bit dramatic. 'The Dressmaker' holds a certain charm that never leaves it as it sways back and forth from one type of genre to the next. It can be billed as a black comedy but it does allow the audience to experience an array of emotions. At times you will find yourself laughing out loud and the next minute you will be gripped by the drama that is unfolding.

Based on the novel by Rosalie Ham, 'The Dressmaker' centres around Myrtle "Tilly" Dunnage (Kate Winslet) and her return to a small Australian country town in rural Victoria in 1951. Her departure years before were under controversial circumstances and the small rural community have not forgotten. She is everything the town isn't - sophisticated, stylish, experienced and worldly and she has come back for one reek havoc on the people that so callously betrayed her all those years ago.

Kate Winslet rarely puts in a bad showing and her turn as Tilly Dunnage is made even more exceptional with a flawless Australian accent. The audience will forget that she is English as she seamlessly slides into the fabric of her surroundings not once slipping up when delivering her dialogue. Judy Davis is the star of the show as Tilly's mad mother, Molly Dunnage. Davis effortlessly steals every scene that she is in with outstanding engagement of a character that is just a little off centre. She will be recognised for this role with an AACTA and it is thoroughly deserving.

Hugo Weaving adds a superb presence as the cross dressing cop, Sergeant Farrat. His character grows on the audience with his eccentric colourful manner, bringing the best out in Weaving that gives this wonderful film an extra element of charm.

Liam Hemsworth is the eye candy for the ladies but is solid in a role that gets Davis and Winslet hot under their collar. He is your typical tall, blue-eyed country boy who is the apple of his mother's eye and does exactly what Moorhouse hired him to do......stand there and look pretty. Good onya Liam.

Joining the familiar talent is a whose who of Australian television that many international audiences wouldn't recognise but they give it that authentic Aussie feel. Could this be the breakout role for Sarah Snook? Gertrude Pratt is transformed by Tilly on screen only to turn on the unfortunate outsider when 'theories' are thrown around.

I can't see any reason why this film won't be enjoyed by the masses. It is Australian and it's dry wit may not appeal to foreign markets which would be a shame. The narrative is all over the place but don't be put off by its uncertainty. Dig a little deeper and you will be rewarded with some brilliant performances.

Hopeless on multiple levels.

It's hard to describe this flick as it is so rambling and chaotic. Perhaps it worked well as a book and just does not translate to the screen. On the acting front Kate Winslet and Hugo Weaving do their vintage best while Liam Hemsworth seems much too modern with his flawless tan and gleaming white teeth. The pace is jagged and it was a misguided relief when it came to a conclusion and then.....blow me down if it didn't start up again! I really can't imagine who the audience is for this film.