1950s, a very small town somewhere in regional Victoria. Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet), a glamorous dressmaker, returns to town, twenty-five years after she was taken away as a child for killing another child. She doesn’t remember, and feels cursed, so has come back to her mother, Mad Molly (Judy Davis) to learn the truth. Molly doesn’t remember her, but the rest of the town does, and she is hated. But when she transforms mousey Gertrude Pratt (Sarah Snook) into a gorgeous apparition with a fabulous dress, the townsfolk are forced to reassess.
I loved this film. I’d been terribly concerned from the trailers that I’d seen it all – the trailer certainly seemed to reveal an awful lot. And it all seemed to be going exactly where I expected it to go until BAM! About two-thirds of the way through the film, my heart was torn from my chest and everything went a totally different direction.
The cast is fabulous, most notably the always wonderful Kate Winslet, Hugo Weaving and Judy Davis. The costumes, as was necessary, were stunning. And the direction and cinematography; wonderful. It had all the quirk that I do love in an Aussie flick, but with powerful heart and, oh. I just loved it.
It’s a time travel film, so forgive me for getting lost as to whether it is the past, the future, the present, an alternative present; it is this confusion that makes the tricks and games of this genre of films really work. Let me start it again;
It is at a point in time in a world like ours but with a few people who are able to travel through time. Agents, like The Bartender (Ethan Hawke), who is trying to track down a bomber and stop him from killing thousands. His boss is Mr Robertson (Noah Taylor), and then there is the story of The Unmarried Mother (Sarah Snook), a mysterious character who has a terribly sad story to tell.
There is a lot that works so well for this film; it was wonderful to see Ethan Hawke back at his best, and Sarah Snook was also wonderful. The storylines became necessarily convoluted, but I was totally engaged, mostly because of how much I liked the characters. I would say, however, that if it were the intent of The Spierig Brothers to create a story that had great twists and turns, it didn’t work that way for the viewer. For me, I didn’t mind that I could pick where the plot was going; there was pleasure in seeing the characters make the connections.