A glamorous woman returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.

Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Writers: Rosalie Ham (novel), P.J. Hogan
Stars: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth


In the delicious, wonderfully odd Australian revenge tale “The Dressmaker,” Kate Winslet is a wild-card clothier who shows up in her home town to settle a childhood score.

From the moment Winslet opens the film, dragging a cigarette and seething “I’m back, you bastards” as she pulls up in her outback town of Dungatar, “The Dressmaker” is off to the races.

And what a strange race it turns out to be.

Winslet plays Tilly, who left town many years ago with a dark secret. She arrives home, wielding her sewing machine like a shotgun, and begins taking care of her mother (Judy Davis), who lives in squalor atop the town’s hill.

Among the townspeople with whom she crosses paths are a cross-dressing cop (Hugo Weaving) and a handsome young footballer (Liam Hemsworth).

They become part of her plot to discover her past, as she gives many in town a stunning makeover along the way.

Jocelyn Moorhouse, directing her first film since 1997’s “A Thousand Acres,” fashions “The Dressmaker” as a bizarre little ode to her Australian homeland. Its tonal peculiarities may present problems for U.S. audiences, but if you’re able to catch its wave, it’s quite a wild ride.

Winslet is allowed to flex her seldom-utilized humor muscles, and she’s a barnburner in a fun, juicy role.

The script (by Moorehouse and P.J. Hogan, based on Rosalie Ham’s novel), is a bit lengthy, and takes a few extra turns rather than coming to a clean stop. But there’s plenty to admire here, especially if your taste is tailored to the unusual.

– Adam Graham, The Detroit News