The Dressmaker Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Love and high fashion: the ideas of the film The Dressmaker (2015): plot summary, meaning of the film, explanation of the ending, similar films.

Genre: drama, comedy

Year of production: 2015

Directed by: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Actors: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth

tagline: “A film about love, revenge and haute couture”.

According to critics and many viewers, Jocelyn Moorhouse made a well-balanced film. It is great for an evening session when you want to watch an interesting story with an unpredictable ending. Many compare this dramedy with von Trier’s Dogville, although the meaning of the film The Dressmaker is still different. First of all, the picture makes you think about whether it is always necessary to cut from the shoulder, whether it is right to turn the other cheek after the blow and where is the golden mean.

What is the movie about

Brief description of the content of the film The Dressmaker. Australia, early 1950s. Myrtle Dunnage returns to a small town called Dungatar after a 25-year absence. She lost her husband and child and returned to her sick mother just to be needed.

Kate WinsletThe role of Myrtle Dunnage was played by Kate Winslet. Frame from the film.

In the distant past, the inhabitants of the town blamed her for the death of a classmate, Stuart Pettyman. They could not justify the teenager and sent him to a boarding school. Myrtle herself does not remember what happened, but she is sure that she did not kill anyone.

Myrtle goes to her home. On the way, she meets with Sergeant Farrett, who took her away from her father’s house many years ago. After a short talk with him, the woman declares that from now on she is not Myrtle, but Tilly, and soon the whole city will know about her return.

In the morning Myrtle-Tilly starts playing golf. Consciously hitting the neighbors’ windows with balloons, she remembers the past and the injustice she had to face. She has no contact with her mother, Molly: the old woman, who is closed to herself, remembers almost nothing. She just looks at her angrily and is silent.

After cleaning up the house, Tilly puts on one of her best outfits and comes to the football match to cheer for her team. Her appearance causes a resonance: some of the townspeople are shocked, and some are delighted. It soon turns out that Tilly is an excellent dressmaker and sews amazing things.

Slowly, the main character of the film The Dressmaker settles down in the town. With some townspeople, including Farret, she develops warm, even friendly relations. But the past is on her heels: every now and then the woman recalls the bullying that the neighbor’s children periodically arranged for her, and the bullying of the late Stuart. Adults and teachers saw all this, but preferred not to interfere.

But Tilly’s relationship with her mother is not going well at all. Molly is very hostile and calls her daughter a killer whenever she tries to contact her. In the midst of a quarrel, the neighbor Gertrude Pratt comes home to the main character. Remembering the impression made by Tilly’s outfit, she asks her to sew the same for her. Tilly agrees, and as payment she asks to “hand over the snitch” – she needs to know who in her childhood gave away the place where she was hiding at the time of Stuart’s death. Gertrude confesses her deed with shame. The solution to her betrayal is simple and terrible: if they didn’t bully Tilly, they bullied her, Gertrude.

Liam HemsworthLiam Hemsworth played the role of Teddy McSweeney and Judy Davis played the role of Molly Dunnage. Frame from the film.

The next day, Farret comes to Tilly and reports that the townspeople are unhappy with her appearance. The sergeant has a parcel in his hands and he embarrassedly informs the woman that, against the background of numerous complaints, he must find out what is inside. Tilly allows him to open the package and easily figures out his passion for wearing women’s outfits. Stuart’s father, the president of the town of Pettyman, also knew about her – it was he who forced the sergeant to send Myrtle to a boarding school for difficult teenagers.

In the evening, Gertrude comes to the dances arranged in the local recreation center in a new outfit. She immediately has fans, including William Beaumont, whom she always liked. Meanwhile, Tilly herself is invited to the cinema by one of the players on the winning team, Teddy. She agrees and sympathy breaks out between them. However, Tilly is cautious: in the depths of her soul she believes that she is cursed – if at least someone gets attached to her, it ends in tragedy.

Soon a bus arrives in town, bringing Una Pleasance, another certified dressmaker. She arrived at the invitation of President Evan Pettyman and is going to open a fashion store here. Soon, Evan and Una enter into a love affair. Upon learning of this, his wife, Marigold, goes to Tilly and asks her to sew a stunning dress for her.

In turn, Tilly learns that the school teacher, Beulah Harridien, witnessed the death of Stuart Pettyman. Taking out the protocol of her interrogation, the woman discovers with horror that it was Beulah who accused her of killing her classmate. Toward the end of the film, Tilly meets with Beula and accuses her of slander. She frightenedly opens up: yes, she lied because she was afraid of the president.

The Dressmaker Ending explanation

Explanation of the ending of the film The Dressmaker. The case of Stuart Pettyman begins to unwind again, the situation is heating up – and again all the townspeople oppose Myrtle. But this time Farret is protecting her. Then he makes her remember what really happened. Everything was explained simply. Turns out Stuart had a nice habit of butting other kids in the stomach. On that ill-fated day, everyone left the schoolyard except Myrtle. Young Pettyman forced his victim to stand by a tree and was about to run headbutt her in the stomach. Mirt stepped aside, and Stuart twisted his neck. The point of all this is that there was no murder – it was an accident.

Roman Tilly and Teddy continues. He proposes to her and invites her to go with him. She agrees to marry him, but does not want to leave. Soon, to celebrate, Teddy comes up with a stupid idea – to jump into the granary. He is sure that there is wheat there – but there is sorghum. Teddy dies and this breaks Tilly, who again remembers her curse. After all that has happened, her relationship with her mother is improving, and the clientele is arriving. Molly is sure that her daughter has an amazing gift to transform people. Tilly herself does not seem to believe this.

Farret soon leaves town and the only person who supports Tilly is Molly. Mother, finally remembering the past, comes up with a plan for revenge. Once a year, a drama competition takes place between Dungatar and another town, Vinyerp. Molly signs a contract with her daughter to make costumes for Vinyerp. Shortly thereafter, she dies of a stroke.

Hugo WeavingHugo Weaving played the role of Farrat. Frame from the film.

At the end, Tilly goes to Mrs. Pettyman and tells her about the misdeeds of Evan, who, moreover, turns out to be her father. Mrs Pettyman kills her husband. In the competition, the costumes made by Tilly are far superior to Dungatar’s costumes. Enjoying the victory, Tilly sets fire to the hated town and leaves.

The meaning of the ending of the film The Dressmaker is that Myrtle said goodbye to the past. She, as they say, “closed the gestalt” and, thanks to revenge, realized that it was not she who was cursed, but they – the inhabitants of a wretched provincial town. She literally burned all the bridges and went on, carrying in her heart the memory of her mother and warm feelings for the eccentric but kind Sergeant Farret.

The meaning of the film The Dressmaker

In their analysis of The Dressmaker, many viewers note that this film is not only a story about retribution. It has a hidden meaning. Some are sure that the essence of the film can be understood only if you look at it as a complex of subconscious images of the main character.

Myrtle is a beautiful woman with a very difficult fate. Having lost the guardianship of her parents early, she was brought up in a boarding school for difficult teenagers. When she was a child, she was hit hard by the environment and it hurt her a lot. However, this did not prevent her from developing her talents and achieving success.

Alas, the ghosts of the past often prevent us from living. Having lost a child, the main character returns to her native Dungatar. In general, the town is a kind of crystallized structure of Myrtle’s subconscious. It took shape in her head as a child, and has remained so, becoming a kind of analogue of a dark, dark room, into which one does not want to return at all. She was forced to this by the death of a child – the strongest traumatic situation. It was this that made Myrtle look her demons in the face.

sewing by the fireplaceFrame from the film.

Conditionally Dungatar is divided into two locations. The townspeople who live in one of them symbolize Myrtle’s inner critics, who are led by President Pettyman. The detached house on the hill in which the mother lives symbolizes the unassimilated part of Tilly’s personality. She is weak and constantly attacked. However, thanks to critics, Myrtle solidified her character. On the other hand, confident that she was under a curse, she was unhappy in her personal life and suffered from the inability to build normal relationships with people.

Back in Dungatar, Mirt clearly decided to change her life. To do this, she needed to cope with internal critics and destroy her unfavorable negative script.

First, she tries to understand the meaning of her curse and determine the cause of the death of a classmate, for which the inhabitants of the town still blame her. She tries to deal with internal critics in different ways. At first, Tilly draws attention to herself, then tries to cooperate, but, realizing that this does not help, starts a war.

The film The Dressmaker has several key moments. The first is the one in which Myrtle realizes that she was not responsible for Stuart’s death and at the same time learns that Pettyman is her father. The second important moment is the death of the mother. Symbolically, this indicates that Myrtle adopted Molly’s character traits and they quietly nestled in the structure of her personality.

After that, Mirt finally resolves her internal conflict and breaks the curse that has weighed on her. A fire in this context can have only one interpretation. This is a catharsis, a cleansing. It is noteworthy that only houses burned down – the inhabitants were not injured. This may mean that after the destruction of destructive attitudes, critics no longer have the same power over Myrtle Tilly. She was freed from inner demons and gained freedom. Now she is in complete control of her life.

the heroine burned down the houseFrame from the film.

Similar films

Here are a few more films similar in meaning to The Dressmaker:

  • Dogville” (Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain, France, Finland, Norway, Italy, 2003). Grace is on the run from a gang of gangsters and takes refuge in a gated community. It soon becomes her prison.
  • “Chocolate” (Great Britain, USA, 2000). A girl named Vienna opens a chocolate shop in a small town. But not everyone is to their taste.
  • Malena” (Italy, USA, 2000). The widow Malena becomes a fatal passion for many men. Everyone likes a dangerous game, but one day something goes wrong.

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