Movie: The Dressmaker

I was over in Kenya when this was released, so I missed the early buzz. However, recent plaudits for this film have made up for it.

I loved the book when I read it a few years ago for its wicked humour and the film captured that well. I thought that Kate Winslet’s Australian accent was excellent, and I enjoyed seeing many familiar faces. While gorgeous, I thought that Liam Hensworth was too young to play Teddy, though.

I was rather surprised to hear that a ‘young person’ of my acquaintance (yes, I do occasionally meet one or two) absolutely hated the book and refused to see the film.  She had been compelled to study the book at school, and I really do wonder why you’d subject such a light book to being ‘done’ as literature in the classroom.  Poor choice, I’d say, and one that would kill the joy of the book with analysis.

As for me, I loved the film just as I loved the book. Full stop.



10 responses to “Movie: The Dressmaker

  1. Well that’s a good recommendation. I hope it’s still on somewhere so I can get to see it, else I will have to wait for the DVD. (We have got so many Palace Cinema vouchers but there seems to be no time to get there!)

  2. I enjoyed the film too … though I do agree about Teddy seeming a little young. Small quibble though. I was a little disconcerted at times by the tone – the mix of the satiric with the tragic, of something a little hyper-real with the real. It’s a long time since I read the book, but from the film, I’m inclined to think it’s not totally “light”. It certainly has a lot of “issues” you could discuss with high school kids it seems to me?

    • I think the mix of the satiric with the tragic is what attracted me to it. I too had read the book a long time ago and I loved the gothic aspects of it. But, as with gothic novels, they’re often not high literature, and I think it’s putting too much of a burden on it to subject it to too much analysis. “Issues” maybe, but not analysis.

      • Ah, well I guess it’s a matter of how you analyse at the school level and whether all school literature study should be high literature? I would have thought this would have been a good book to talk about how literature can contribute to your understanding of the world/humanity as it deals with some serious issues including of course bullying and domestic violence. The satiric aspect would also be good to talk about in terms of literary style and tone. I’d love to know what books that acquaintance of yours did love analysing at school. I found this interesting list of books for possible use by Year 11 in Victoria (including The dressmaker)

        That’s interesting re the tone – I did find it a little disconcerting. It threw me and is probably why, although I enjoyed it, I’d find it hard to call it wonderful.

      • The young lass in question is very much of your frame of mind (I think you’d like her a lot!). She’s doing literature and when I met her she was reading (and loving) Pride and Prejudice for the very first time!!! She’d seen the movie of course, but not read the book.

  3. artandarchitecturemainly

    I think analysing a book in minute detail in high school is the kiss of death for that book/author for the rest of our lives. I read The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway in 1963 and have never had the guts to read another Hemingway since.

    My husband loved The Dressmaker; I didn’t think it was his type of film.

    • Actually, not for me. I lapped up deep analysis of books right through high school. Could never understand how it turned people off – well, I could in the sense that I understand that we are all different, but I just want to say that it’s not the kiss of death for everyone!! That said, I was put off Great expectations for about 3 decades from a school experience – but that was because I wasn’t ready for it. I just couldn’t get into it, let alone even think of analysing it. So, I think that’s an issue too – timing, I mean.

      • I can’t believe it now, but I didn’t do English Literature at school, only English Expression. I can’t remember why, although I think the thought of the Canterbury Tales turned me off. I very much enjoyed the books I read in English Expression (the Go-Between; The Member of the Wedding; TKAM of course; One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich) but can remember feeling rather dismissive of books like Salute to the Great McCarthy that was probably selected from the same motivation as The Dressmaker was. So many people I know were completely repelled by Moby Dick from ‘doing’ it at school, but I loved it when I read it aged 40.

      • I do think that sometimes complaints about school spoiling books is about timing – and perhaps a bit about quality of teaching – more than about the analysis. How hard it must be for teachers to find books that a whole class will like and be read for.

        BTW I am so glad we had to do The Canterbury Tales at school because I would never have done them on my own! I’m sure I inwardly groaned at the idea of doing them though.

  4. My daughter and I loved the movie, though my daughter put her finger on it when she said the movie gave you emotional whiplash as you go from laughing one minute to a dark place the next. At times I found it uncomfortably familiar – I could almost smell the stale air in the caravan. And wasn’t Judy Davis great?

    On the issue of high school English lessons destroying enjoyment of reading books – I don’t think I should get started. Fortunately I have recovered and enjoy reading again. I think the point of English should be to encourage a love of reading, and good written communication skills – two things year 12 English fails miserably at. And I am appalled at teachers getting students to write and memorise essays which can be tweaked according to the question in the exam room. It reduces English exams to a speed writing test and doesn’t teach students to think on their feet in exams.

    Ok, I got started, but at least I restricted myself to one paragraph on that subject:-)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s