Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Australia, 2015. Screen Australia, Film Art Media, White Hot Productions. Screenplay by Jocelyn Moorhouse, P.J. Hogan, based on the novel by Rosalie Ham. Cinematography by Donald McAlpine. Produced by Sue Maslin. Music by David Hirschfelder. Production Design by Roger Ford. Costume Design by Marion Boyce, Margot Wilson. Film Editing by Jill Bilcock. Toronto International Film Festival 2015.
A dusty Australian outback town in 1952 is thrown for a loop when Kate Winslet arrives in a glamorous dress and heads to the house on the hill. In it lives a crazy old lady (Judy Davis) who is actually Winslet’s mother, surrounded by a group of people who are tied to a scandal from the young woman’s past that she has now come to straighten out. Winslet sets herself up as a local seamstress, the image of her feminine mystique in Australia’s harshest terrain a gem to behold, turning the grubby young ladies into goddesses in gorgeous gowns, inspiring the ire of a few citizens who try to annihilate our heroine before she gets the revenge on them that they know they deserve. This charming oddity has beautiful visuals and a stunning cast, lorded over by a solid Winslet and the sexy chemistry she has with romantic lead Liam Hemsworth. It also has a few more unnecessary plot turns than it needs by the time it gets to its conclusion, and it hasn’t fully worked out all its comedic tones (Hugo Weaving‘s character belongs in a different kind of comedy considering that Kerry Fox‘s villain has real menace to her), but it’s the best film that Jocelyn Moorhouse has done in years and is well worth enjoying.