Has Kate Winslet been cloned by a megalomaniacal Hollywood studio boss? How else do you explain the way she whooshes between Oscar-brilliant films like ‘The Reader’ and don’t-touch-with-a-bargepole stinkers like ‘The Dressmaker’? This loopily all-over-the-place Aussie comedy has an interesting-on-paper premise: it’s a female revenge Western with frocks instead of guns. Winslet is Tilly, who was sent away in disgrace from back-of-beyond Dumpsville to boarding school as a girl, accused of killing a little boy. Now she’s back, a Paris-trained couturier with bombshell curves and a killer way with a bias-cut dress. Branded a child murderess by the entire village, Tilly wins over the women (and a tranny policeman) by rustling up dresses to die for.
The best thing you can say about it, is that ‘The Dressmaker’ has got camp charm. And it takes a certain kind of genius to hit so many wrong notes. It’s as if everyone involved has been knocking back the Christmas sherry. Still, there are a couple of big laughs and Judy Davis as Tilly’s batty bag-lady mum is scene-stealing hilarious. Kate Winslet fans: this is one to miss.