'The Dressmaker' - Movie Review

Kate Winslet is Myrtle "Tilly" Dunnage, a dress maker returning to the town in the Australian Outback that she was driven out of when she was 10. She finds her mother, who she stays with, referred to as "Mad Molly" (Judy Davis) - with some justification. The first 20 minutes is spent setting up every person in the village is an eccentric "character." Initially the movie looks like it's going to be about revenge for her being driven out of town. But during the course of the movie, as she starts making fabulous dresses for nearly everyone, we get fashion and comedy as it looks like there may be reconciliation. And then it becomes a rom-com. But that ends and things get darker again. Wikipedia says "... criticism focusing on its uneven tone ..." No kidding. There's some good writing in places, both funny and clever, but the tone is fantastically uneven. And the story arcs of at least a couple characters are ridiculous: Gertrude (Sarah Snook) is unbelievably treacherous (that's not rhetoric: I literally didn't believe it), and Molly's progression from completely nuts to saner than anyone in the town is hard to swallow.

There are elements of a very good film in there. But the director seems to have assembled those pieces deliberately out of order and with no regard to tone to end up creating an actively frustrating movie that had me bellowing at the screen (pity the friend who watched the movie with me - although she shared my frustration).