Myrtle Dunnage (Kate Winslet) returning to her small Australian village is the central story of The Dressmaker. Myrtle has been absent for 25 years following the death of a young boy for which she was blamed by the boy’s father and others in the village. But now she’s back to take care of her ill and mentally unbalanced mother (Judy Davis), who Myrtle wants some answers from but who doesn’t remember the events of that fateful day a quarter century ago.
Myrtle’s presence in town causes all sorts of upset and upheaval. That’s not just because of her history but also because she’s always wearing fancy dresses, the kind she’s become renowned in the big city for making. Not only has she set the tongues of the town gossips wagging but she’s turned the eye of Teddy (Liam Hemsworth) and the two begin a romantic relationship. Not everyone in town is thrilled to see her back, though, and she has to fight through all the old allegations and discriminations from decades past while staying true to the strong, independent and successful woman she’s become since leaving.
Just one poster here. The one-sheet shows Winslet as Myrtle standing in a stylish outfit and carrying a suitcase standing in a field and looking past the camera at something, clearly indicating she’s on some sort of journey and is maybe returning somewhere, or at least arriving at her destination. The copy “Revenge is back in fashion” can’t seem to decide if it wants to be chillingly dark or whimsically amusing, just one of the tonal issues in the campaign. There’s no release information on the poster, which is an oversight.
There was an international trailer a long while before it was eventually released but finally an official trailer came out that hits many of the same beats, just rearranged a bit. We see Myrtle has returned to her small town after spending years in the big city as a fashion designer. She ran away after she was apparently suspected of murder, something her mother Molly keeps reminding her of, though the details are still apparently fuzzy. We see various meet-cutes between Myrtle and Teddy and some sort of relationship develops while at the same time Myrtle sets out to transform the village’s ladies from their drab, laboring selves into elegant, well-dressed glamour icons. All the while, the townsfolk are alternately thrilled and a bit suspicious of the chaos she’s causing in their sleepy little lives.
The trailer lays out quite a bit of story – too much at times – in trying to explain everything that’s going on in the story. What strikes me the most, though, is the disconnect between the music and the footage being shown. The score the plays in the trailer is light and fantastical, the kind of music you’d expect to accompany a story of pure imagination or of someone rising above their station and achieving their dreams against all odds. So it works for that part of the story that’s presented but seems more incongruous for the parts where Myrtle is being suspected of murder and being told no one in the town will trust her. Basically the tonal shifts of the story that are shown here aren’t supported very well by the music, making it an odd viewing experience.
Online and Social
Not much going on over at the movie’s official website. The main image is a variation on the key art of Winslet standing in the field looking at whatever her destination is. There’s a prompt at the bottom of the page to watch the trailer and at the top to buy tickets now. The only other sections on the site are “Videos,” which just has the one trailer and “About,” which has a pretty simple writeup offering only the barest of opening story premises.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing here I’m aware of. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some online ads later in the week or in a few months when the movie comes to Amazon, but nothing at the moment is popping.
Media and Publicity
The movie was actually released in Australia last year and is already a success there. It screened at 2015’s Toronto International Film Festival to mostly positive reviews and word-of-mouth and was eventually picked up by Amazon for release as a result of those screenings.
I like this push but I feel like there’s something missing, like there’s some part of the story that’s going unrevealed and which will drastically change how the movie is received. It’s being sold as a pretty standard, if mostly charming, of revenge being a dish that’s best served cold and of standing up for yourself when no one else will. But there’s something here, a darkness to the story, that’s only barely hinted at but is trying to push its way out.
What is here, though, is alright. The trailer is, as I stated above, a bit tonally choppy but overall it tells the audience this is a feminist story about taking back your name and not being shamed or bullied over something that happened years ago, all of which is good. It’s obviously Winslet’s show and she looks like she’s having some fun digging into a character that has a lot going on underneath the surface. It still seems, though, like it never really figures out what kind of movie it’s selling and that could hurt it with audiences.