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The Dressmaker (2015) Movie Analysis or Vendetta With Singer Machine.

the dressmaker movie analysis
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“I’m back, you bastards!” or Vendetta in Australia.

I am delighted with this sophisticated, sarcastic, somewhat grotesque chamber film. Therefore, I am writing a The Dressmaker movie analysis to inspire at least someone to watch this brilliant masterpiece.

I want to say that this picture really managed to amaze me. And now about everything in order.

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The Dressmaker Plot.

Outback Australia 1951. One unremarkable evening, when it was already dark, and everyone had scattered to their homes, a stylish stranger got out of the bus, which had just arrived in a God-forsaken place called Dungatar, with a compact Singer sewing machine in her hands. A quarter of a century ago, she was accused of killing a classmate and sent to a closed boarding school, where she fled to Europe.

None of the locals, peacefully snoring in warm beds, had no idea what such an overdue return of the criminal promised them, what metamorphoses would soon occur with their dirty, not at all dust place. Glamorous Parisian fashion becomes her weapon against conservative hypocrites, which turns nondescript women into written beauties.

Thus begins the story of Tilly (Kate Winslet) and her search for redemption. After little Myrtle was unanimously banished from her home, she wandered the world for a long time and finally closed her desperate circle where it all began. Then, feeling suffocated with guilt and the heaviness of the curse, she came home to find out the truth, to throw off the shackles. And punish their offenders for many years of mental anguish.

The story’s climax is enchanting, theatrical, and charming in its conception.

When everything starts so beautifully, with dresses and blues melodies, you absolutely don’t expect, from the second third of the film, to squeeze into a chair from experiences.

I added one more article with Chocolat 2000 movie review a couple of days ago. I think The Dressmaker and Chocolat are similar pictures, and maybe you will be interested in reading a story about one more woman against the whole town.

the dressmaker tilly
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Kate Winslet effortlessly reincarnates from a fatal beauty into an unfortunate dressmaker. Such a multifaceted female image has not been created on the screens for a long time. Myrtle causes admiration, envy, laughter, and sympathy at the same time.

By the way, to play a milliner, Kate Winslet learned to sew. She participated in creating dresses worn by the film’s heroines.

Perhaps, one of the most heartfelt notes here is the story of “damned” love.

It’s incredible how much sensuality the director put into the joint scenes of Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth. What irresistible chemistry between them! Brutally calm, self-confident Liam perfectly sets off the delicate femininity of the actress.

Molly is the half-mad mother of the main character, played by Judy Davis. Molly’s story hides no fewer secrets than the story of her daughter’s childhood; her line is perfectly worked out and very complex but will be fully understood by the viewer only at the end of the film.

Teddy is an attractive hard worker in the person of Liam Hemsworth, who has known Tilly since childhood. He is a hero and a favorite of most of the townspeople. Still, at the same time, Teddy is suffocating from unfulfillment and boredom. And Tilly, bright, brilliant, and so far from the city’s pacifiers, cannot but attract his attention.

The character of Hugo Weaving is a gift to all lovers of a good laugh. A small but bright and such a memorable role for this incredible actor.


I want to express special thanks to the director of the film. I was delighted with his incredible talent from the first few minutes. So imagine my surprise when I rushed to the computer and saw a completely unfamiliar name in the “director” column – Jocelyn Moorhouse.

The deliberate theatricality of the performance hits the eyes from the first frames: the houses, cut into the darkness with cardboard silhouettes, remind, first of all, of Dogville, of the fate of another woman, locked in scenery alien to her. Grotesque, grotesque, and more grotesque.

In this film, sound, dialogue, characters, editing, and camera work harmoniously merged. Each scene and each conversation lasted just enough time to be informative and uncluttered.

the dressmaker movie analysis
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The Dressmaker movie analysis.

In the annotation, this film is worth as a drama/comedy, but personally, it caused me hard feelings. So I would define this film as about bullying, psychological trauma, and neurotic guilt.

The film perfectly demonstrates how the phenomena of trauma are experienced similarly by different people. The director, through various characters, shows the symptoms inherent in trauma: re-experiencing what happened in the form of separate memories, the desire to avoid talking about what happened, excessive activation, and aggression. Also, the director shows us the method of healing.

I ask you not to take this movie too lightly. This film is a metaphor and has a lot of psychology and mages.

The Dressmaker paradoxically combines the pictures’ richness and the events’ horror.

But if you look at it not as a story about retribution but as a complex of subconscious images of the main character. And then, it turns out that Dungatar is not a town in Australia at all.

There are conditionally two camps in this strange fictional town: the central city, which her inner critics inhabit, and a separate house on the hill, where her crazy mother, Molly, lives. She is the weak part of Tilly’s personality and is persecuted by the city’s main population.

It is symbolic that President Petiman is in charge of the city of critics. According to the plot, he is the father of Myrtle. And her leading inner critic speaks in her father’s voice.

The whole plot revolves around the story of the boy’s death. The circumstances of his death were forced out of the memory of this small town. By the film’s end, the boy’s mother will say no one remembers her son; even his father has forgotten him. However, when questioned, many vaguely remember that day’s details.

It often happens when an event turns out to be unbearable in terms of the intensity of experiences; they try to forget about it. This girl, involved in what happened, is forcibly separated from her mother and taken out of the city. Her mother receives public contempt and is ignored. The mother eventually forgets her neighbors’ names and that she ever had a daughter. Unfortunately, nothing seems to remind everyone of what happened and that everyone continues to live their lives.

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But the pain of loss, not recognized and lived by society, is reproduced in the symptomatic behavior of its members.

For example, the old doctor walks with a quick gait, bent at the waist, stopping only after he sticks his head into his wife’s stomach. And his wife constantly holding her hands clenched into fists, unable to unbend them. But as soon as she talks about this boy, the stiffness in her hands once and for all disappears.

Tilly decides to return to this city to figure out what happened and remember who and how she killed. She comes to this decision after the loss of her pregnancy. The loss of her child revived the memory of that tragic event when Myrtle was ten years old. Being in a state of guilt, she believes this event has cursed her, and she cannot bring anything good to people.

Since Tilly now has enough forces and resources, she will have to solve two related tasks in Dungatar

1. Destroy your negative life script;

2. Deal with the images of the inner critic.

To remove the curse from herself, the heroine is forced to recall all the circumstances of what happened thoroughly. To do this, she returns to the place of the boy’s death and sequentially plunges into the memory of one episode after another, experiences rising feelings, and remembers that it was an accident and she did not twist his neck, as many believed.

As a result of the actualization of what happened, the heroine is freed from guilt. However, responsibility for what happened is returned to the boy, who acted as the aggressor.

In psychology, genuine (real) guilt and neurotic guilt are distinguished. Real shame comes when a person commits an actual crime. Neurotic guilt is based on personal responsibility for what happened.

In this story, the whole environment of the town, under pain of punishment from the boy’s father, finds a “scapegoat” in this girl’s face. For them, it was a way to protect themselves. But for her, it became a heavy imposed burden that felt like a curse. 

The unfolding of the tragic event made it possible to admit that little depended on her, and the boy’s life was not in her power. It removes the feeling of guilt.

tilly and teddy
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We can’t ignore one crucial moment of the film: the death of Teddy McSweeny. This pleasant young man falls in love with Myrtle and calls her to run away with him. Why does it turn out that he dies? 

Of course, his death is symbolic and instead means that in real life, their paths diverged, failing to intertwine into a strong relationship. The reason for their breakup was his immaturity. According to the film’s plot, they are the same age, but Teddy looks noticeably younger than her.

In other words, he did not have sufficient resources (experience, wisdom, knowledge, strength) to help Tilly overcome her life script and recover from neurosis. Moreover, realizing this, Teddy offered her to run away with him, which meant Myrtle had to leave her psychological difficulties unresolved again and again and lock the dark room with ghosts.

So the film’s turning point is Myrtle’s realization that there is no wrongdoing for which she should be punished and that her judges themselves are the source of the curse.

In the movie, we can see a series of events:

  • she understands that she is not guilty of the death of the boy,
  • she learns that her father sent her to an orphanage so that her daughter would not become an obstacle to his ambitions and novels,
  • the death of the mother indicates the acceptance of maternal character traits.

the dressmaker ending
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What is the message in The Dressmaker?

After these events, Tilly resolves her inner conflict and breaks the curse, symbolically demonstrated in the next scene.

Fire represents catharsis, a kind of cleansing of the personality from neurosis and releasing accumulated energy from this formerly crystallized structure.

Interestingly, only the houses where the critics lived are burned down, but their inhabitants remain alive. Instead, it indicates that these images of painful memories remain, but they no longer have such a strong influence on Tilly.

 At the film’s end, the heroine spreads the red carpet from her home, representing her triumphant exit from the drama of her life. Thus, the director informs us: that even after all the terrible things that can happen in everyone’s personal history, life has the right to continue.

This film is an excellent demonstration of the phenomena of trauma for anyone interested in this topic.

I appreciate this film because every little thing here acquires its special meaning. The closeness of the town quite obviously speaks of the same limited society, which is not clear how and it is not clear why it lives here. Desert landscapes emphasize the emptiness of the souls of the inhabitants of this place even more boldly.

In general, it is highly significant that the most “abnormal” residents of the city – a crazy old woman, a cross-dresser, and a lad who is lagging in development – turn out to be capable of kindness and affection towards Myrtle, while the rest only use her services and spread gossip.

In addition to the excellent fullness, this film boasts a simply chic design. Remember, at least the mirror tree! It looks good in the frame, so much so that even the city garbage dump looks artistic.

And here are all the most revolutionary trends of the 50s; courage in outfits borders on insolence, gloves, mouthpieces, and red lipsticks. The style of The Dressmaker can be envied. Check out my 10 movies with great outfits article if you love fashion. Also, I mentioned Gertrude`s wedding dress in 19 wedding dresses in movies and tv shows.

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the dressmaker movie analysis
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Final words.

The Dressmaker shows us the painful problems of human socialization and the real influence of society on individual destinies from a different angle, at the junction of drama and comedy.

I would recommend this film to inspire fashion designers and artists to awaken their impulses. For example, one of the memorable remarks said to the heroine at the moment of her despair.

You are a genius. Only you can transform anyone. And you should enjoy it”.

Did you watch The Dressmaker? What do you think about this picture? Write below in the comments.

If you like pictures of woman`s businesses – check out my list of 13 movies about female entrepreneurs.

Share this blog post if you enjoyed it. I would appreciate it! 

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I`m in love with movies and psychology. Here I write how we can use movies for healing and self-growth. Also, be sure to check out my movie lists. You will find cool suggestions for movie night.

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I`m in love with movies and psychology. Here I write how we can use movies for healing and self-growth. Also, be sure to check out my movie lists. You will find cool suggestions for movie night.

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